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Vol. IV 


Vol. II 















The Story of Olaf the Holy, the Son of Harald i 
Explanations of the Metaphors in the Verses . 469 


IV. B 



OLAF, the son of Harald of Grenland, 
was brought up with his stepfather, Sigurd 
Sow, and his mother, Asta. Rani the 
Wide-faring was with Asta, and he gave fostering 
to King Olaf Haraldson. Olaf was early a well- 
thewed man, goodly to look at, of middle height, 
and wise and deft of speech he was at an early 
age. Sigurd Sow was a great husbandman, and 
kept his folk hard at work ; and himself fared 
often to look after acres and meadows, or live 
stock, or to the smithing, or wheresoever his men 
were busy at other things. 


ON a time it befell that King Sigurd would 
ride away from his house, and no man 
was home at the stead ; so he bade Olaf, 
his stepson, to saddle him a horse. Olaf went to the 
goat-house, and took there the biggest buck-goat 

4 The Saga Library. HI 

and led it home, and laid thereon the saddle of the 
king, and then went and told him he had harnessed 
him the nag. Then went King Sigurd thither, 
and saw what Olaf had done. Then said he : 
"'Tis clear enow that thou art minded to wash 
thine hands of all my bidding. Belike thy mother 
deemeth it seemly that I have no biddings to thee 
that are not to thy mind ; and it is easily seen 
that we are not like in temper, for thou art of 
mickle higher mettle than I." 

Olaf answered little, and went away laughing. 


OLAF HARALDSON, as he grew up, 
was a man of scarce high middle stature, 
but very thick-set, and stark of thew ; 
light red of hair, broad-faced, bright and ruddy of 
countenance, of eyes wondrous good, fair-eyed 
and swift-eyed, so that it was awful to look him in 
the face if he were wroth. Olaf was a man of 
mickle skill in many matters ; he knew well the 
craft of the bow, and of all men was the best in 
shooting of hand-shot : a good swimmer, deft and 
skilful in all smith's work, his own no less than 
other men's. He was called Olaf the Thick. He 
was bold of speech and clear-spoken, early fulfilled 
of all ripeness, both as to pith and wisdom ; be- 
loved was he of all his kindred and acquaintance ; 
masterful in games, and would be at the head of 
all others, as was but due because of his dignity 
and birth. 

IV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 


OLAF, son of Harald, was twelve winters 
old when he stepped on board a warship 
for the first time. Asta, his mother, got 
Rani, who was called King's fosterer, to be leader 
of the host, and to be with Olaf in his faring, 
whereas Rani had often been on viking before. 
When Olaf took over host and ships, the host 
gave him the name of king, as the wont was ; for 
such war-kings as became vikings bore forthwith 
the name of a king, if they were king-born, although 
they had no lands to rule over. Rani sat at the 
tiller, and therefore some men say that Olaf was 
but a thole-man, yet he was king over the host 

They made east along the land, and first unto 
Denmark. So says Ottar the Swart when he 
sang about King Olaf: 

King fight-strong ! Yet a youngling 
The steed of the blood of meadows 
Didst thou thrust out toward Denmark ; 
Thou, to dear valour wonted ! 
Most gainful was thy going. 
O King ! now art thou mighty 
Through such-like prowess. Learned I 
Clear of thy fare from Northland. 

But when it was harvest, he sailed east round 
the Swede-realm, and then fell to harry and burn 
the land ; for he deemed he had to requite the 
Swedes with full enmity for taking the life of his 

6 The Saga Library. V 

father Harald. Ottar the Swart says in plain 
words that he went then east out of Denmark : 

Land-ward ! ye thrust with oar-blades 
The brave ships into the East-salt, 
And bore the shields of lime-tree 
Down from the land a-shipboard. 
Ye used your sail, and shipped ye 
Your rudder, the sea-caster, 
Whiles rent your oars the many. 
Much-rowed, great seas beneath you. 

Feeder of swans of fight-ale. 
To folk was fear abounding 
Because of thy faring : sithence 
Thou wastedst Sweden's nesses. 


THAT autumn Olaf fought the first battle 
at Sotisker, which is within the skerries 
of Sweden ; there he fought with vikings, 
and he is named Soti who was their captain, and 
Olaf had much less company but bigger ships. 
He laid his ships between some sea-rocks, and for 
the vikings it was unhandy to lay them aboard. 
They (Olaf and his folk) brought grappling hooks 
aboard the ships that lay nighest to them, and 
drew them in, and then cleared them. The vikings 
made off, and had lost a great host of men. 
Skald Sigvat tells of this fight in the song in which 
he told the tale of the fights of King Olaf: 

The long sea-log was bearing 
The young king's-kindred seaward, 
And so it was that all folk 
Sithence the king's wrath dreaded. 

VI The Story of Olaf tJie Holy. 7 

But he of men the noblest 
The first time wolf's foot reddened 
At Soti's-skerry east there. 
Of many a thing I mind me. 


KING OLAF next went on east by Sweden, 
and put into the Low, and harried on 
either land. He went all the way up to 
Sigtun, and lay off ancient Sigtun. So say the 
Swedes, that there be still there the stone-heaps 
which Olaf let be made under his gangway ends. 
But when autumn set in Olaf Haraldson got to 
know that Olaf the Swede-king drew together a 
great host, and also that he had done chains 
athwart Stocksound, and set guard thereover. 
But the Swede-king was of mind that King Olaf 
would there bide the frosts, and he held Olaf's 
host of little worth, for he had but a small company. 
So King Olaf went out to Stocksound, and might 
not get through there, for a castle was on the 
west side of the sound and an host of men on the 
south. But when they heard that the Swede-king 
was gone aboard ship, and had a great host and 
a multitude of ships. King Olaf let dig a dyke 
through Agni's-thwaite into the sea. At this time 
great rains prevailed. 

Now from all Sweden every running water falls 
into the Low, and out to sea there is one oyce 
from the Low, so narrow that many rivers be 
wider. But when great rains or snow-thaws pre- 
vail, the waters fall with such a rush that through 
Stocksound the water runs in a force, and the 

8 The Saga Library. VI 

Low goes so much upon the lands that wide-about 
be floods. Now when the dyke got to the sea, 
then leapt out the water and the stream. Then 
King Olaf let take inboard all the rudders of his 
ships, and hoist all sails top-mast high. And there 
was a high wind at will blowing. They steered 
with the oars, and the ships went apace out over 
the shoal, and came all whole into the sea. 

Then the Swedes went to see Olaf the Swede- 
king, and told him that by then Olaf the Thick 
had got him away out into the sea. So the 
Swede-king rated soundly those who should have 
watched that Olaf gat not away. 

That is now called King's Sound, and there is 
no passing with big ships there save when the 
waters swell to their utmost. But some men will 
have it that the Swedes got aware whenas Olaf 
and his folk had dug the dyke through the thwaite, 
and the water rushed through ; and withal, that 
the Swedes went thither with an host of men, 
being minded to balk Olaf from passing through ; 
but as the water dug out either side, then fell in 
the banks, and with them the people, and a multi- 
tude of men was lost there. But the Swedes 
gainsay this, and reckon it vain that any men 
were lost there. 

King Olaf sailed in autumn for Gotland, and 
arrayed him for harrying there. But there the 
Gotlanders had a gathering, and sent men to the 
king, and bade him tribute for the land. To this 
the king agreed, and took tribute of the land, and 
sat there the winter through. So says Ottar the 
Swart : 

VII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 

Thou wonnest, O warrior-wager, 
Tribute from folk of Gotland, 
And durst not men against thee 
With brand to ward their island. 
So ran the Isle-syslings' war-host ; 
I heard that the wolf-kind's hunger 
Thawed east-away. That youngling 
Calls many lesser-hearted. 


HERE tells the tale that King Olaf went 
in springtide east to Isle-sysla and 
harried ; he made a land-raid there, and 
the Isle-syslings came down and held battle with 
him. There King Olaf had the victory, drove the 
rout, and harried and wasted the land. So it is 
said, that first when King Olaf and his came 
into Isle-sysla, the bonders offered him pay, and 
when the pay came down, he went to meet them 
with an host all-weaponed, and then things went 
otherwise than the bonders were minded ; for they 
came down with no pay at all, but with war-weapons 
rather, and gave the king battle, as was said before. 
So says Skald Sigvat : 

Again it was that Olaf 
Went to wage second point-thing 
Down in the ravaged Isle-land ; 
Nor hidden was the treason. 
All-wielder ! there the yeomen. 
Who ran, to their feet were owing 
The ransom for dear life's sake : 
For wounds afield few waited. 

10 The Saga Library. VIII 


SO thence he sailed back to Finland and 
harried there, and made land-raids, but all 
the folk fled into the woods and emptied 
the dwelling-places of all chattels. The king fared 
far up into the land and through certain woods. 
There they came upon some dale-dwellings, where 
the countrysides are called Herdales. They got 
but few chattels and no men. Then the day wore, 
and the king turned back to his ships. But as 
they came into the wood, an host thronged on them 
from every side, and shot at them, and set on hard 
and fast. The king bade his men shield them- 
selves, and smite again as occasion served ; but that 
was unhandy, for the Finns let the wood ward 
them. But or ever the king came out of the wood, 
he lost a many men and many got wounded, and 
so reached his ships in the evening. The Finns 
made in the night wild weather and storm at sea 
with their sorcery. But the king let weigh anchors 
and hoist sail, and so they beat through the night 
about the land. So that time as oftener the king's 
good luck prevailed against the wizardry of the 
Finns ; that night they got clear of Balagarth-side 
and thence out into the open sea. But the host 
of the Finns went along up on land as the king 
sailed outside. So says Sigvat : 

The third one of the steel-wreaths 
Of the king's son waxed hard now, 
When was the Finn-folk's meeting 
In the stark raid on Herdales. 

IX The story of Olaf the Holy. ii 

The sea-waves there were smiting 
The galleys of the Vikings 
In the Low where Balagarth-side 
Lay neath the bows of the surf-skates. 


THEN King Olaf sailed to Denmark and 
there happened on Thorkel the High, the 
brother of Earl Sigvaldi, and Thorkel 
betook himself to journeying with him, for he was 
already arrayed to fare out to the wars. So they 
sailed south along Jutland-side, and to where it 
was called Southwick, and there won many viking 
ships. But vikings who lay out ever, and ruled 
over a great host, let them be called kings, though 
they had no lands to rule over. Here King 
Olaf gave battle, and a great fight befell, and 
King Olaf got the victory and much wealth. So 
says Sigvat : 

The king once more, as folk say, 
Wielded uprise of Gunn's song 
The fourth time : I have heard how 
The warrior-wight won glory; 
There whereas peace unlittle 
Was cleft betwixt the king's hosts, 
Down there in slender Southwick, 
Well known unto the Dane-folk. 

12 The Saga Library. X-XI 


THEN King Olaf sailed south to Friesland, 
and lay off Kinnlim-side in heavy weather. 
So the king went aland with his host, 
but the folk of the land rode down to meet them, 
and fought with them. So says Sigvat the Skald : 

O Cower of evil-doers ! 
The fifth of fights thou wonnest. 
Helm-grim. The bows tholed tempest 
By high Kinnlima-side then, 
Whereas rode down the war-host 
Against the lord-king's galleys ; 
But stately strode the king's host 
'Gainst the warriors in the battle. 


THEN sailed King Olaf west to England. 
This was the tidings there, that Svein Twi- 
beard the Dane-king was that time in Eng- 
land with the Dane-host, and had then sat there for 
a while and harried the land of King ^thelred. At 
that time the Danes had gone wide over England, 
and things had come to such a pass that King 
^thelred had fled from the land and fared south 
into Valland. The same autumn that King Olaf 
came to England it betid there that King Svein, 
the son of Harald, died suddenly anight in his 
bed ; and it is the say of Englishmen that Edmund 
the Holy did slay him after the manner in which 
the holy Mercury slew Julian the Apostate. Now 

.XI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 3 

when King ^thelred learned these tidings in 
Flanders, he turned straightway back to England ; 
and when he came back into the land, he sent 
word to all men who would take fee hereto, to wit, 
for conquering the land with him. Then drifted 
to him a great multitude of folk ; and withal thither 
came to his aid King Olaf with a great following 
of Northmen. 

Now first they made for London and went up 
the Thames with the host of the ships, but the 
Danes held the city. On the other side of the 
river there is a great cheaping-town called South- 
wark ; there the Danes had great arrayal : they 
had dug great dykes, on the inner side whereof 
they had built a wall of wood and turf and stone, 
and therewithin they had a great host. King 
^thelred let make a hard onset, but the Danes 
warded them, and King ^thelred might do 
nought against them. A bridge was there across 
the river, betwixt the city and Southwark, so 
broad that waggons might be driven past each 
other thereover. On the bridge were made strong- 
holds, both castles and bulwarks looking down 
stream, so high that they reached a man above his 
waist ; but under the bridge were pales stuck into 
the bottom of the river. And when an onset was 
made the host stood on the bridge all along it and 
warded it. King ^thelred was mickle mind-sick, 
how he was to win the bridge. He called together 
for a parley all the captains of the host, seeking 
counsel of them how they should bring the bridge 
down. Then King Olaf said he would risk laying 
his men on to it, if other captains were willing 

14 The Saga Library. XII 

to set on also. At this meeting it was settled that 
they should lay their host up under the bridge. 
Then each one set about arraying his men and 



ING OLAF had great flake-hurdles made 
of willow-twigs and green wood, and let 
sheds of wicker-work be taken to pieces, 
and all these he let lay over his ships, so widely 
that they went right out-board. Thereunder he let 
set staves so thick together and so high that it was 
both handy to fight from under, and it was full stout 
enough against stones if they were cast down 
thereon. Now, when the host was arrayed they 
fell on a-rowing up the river ; and when they came 
near to the bridge, there was cast down on them 
both shot and stones so great that nought might 
hold, neither helms nor shields ; and the ships them- 
selves were wondrous broken thereby, and many 
withal backed out. But King Olaf and the host 
of the Northmen rowed right up under the bridge 
and lashed cables round the pales that upheld the 
bridge, and then they fell to their oars and rowed 
all the ships down stream as hard as they might. 
The pales dragged along the ground even until 
they were loosened under the bridge. But inas- 
much as an host under weapons stood thickly 
arrayed on the bridge, there were on it both a 
many stones and many war-weapons, and the pales 
having broken from under it, the bridge broke 
down by reason thereof, and many of the folk fell 

X 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 5 

into the river, but all the rest thereof fled from the 
bridge, some into the city, some into Southwark. 

And after this they made an onset on Southwark, 
and won it. 

And when the townsfolk saw that the river 
Thames was won, so that they might not hinder 
the ships from faring up into the land, they w^ere 
afeard, and gave up the town and took King 
^thelred in. So says Ottar the Swart : 

O battle-bold, the cunning 
Of Ygg's storm ! Yet thou brakest 
Down London Bridge : it happed thee 
To win the land of snakes there. 
Hard shields be-craved had roar there ; 
There too they sprang asunder. 
Hard iron-rings of the war-coats, 
Therewith the battle waxed. 

And still he sang this : 

Thou broughtst to land, and landedst. 
King ^thelred, O Landward, 
Strengthened by might ! That folk-friend 
Such wise of thee availed. 
Hard was the meeting soothly, 
When Edmund's son thou broughtest 
Back to his land made peaceful. 
Which erst that kin-stem ruled. 

Yet again thus saith Sigvat : 

True is it that the sixth fight 
Was whereas fell on Olaf 
At London Bridge : the swift king 
Bade Ygg's brunt to the English. 
There were the Welsh swords biting, 
Their dyke the Vikings warded. 
But some deal of the war-host 
Held booths in level Southwark. 

1 6 The Saga Library. XIII 


KING OLAF was with King ^thelred 
through the winter. Then they had a great 
fight on Ringmar Heath in Wolfkelsland. 
That dominion belonged then to Wolf kel Snilling ; 
there the kings won the victory. So says Sigvat 
the Skald : 

Yet once again let Olaf 

Be held a seventh sword-thing. 

It was in Wolfkel's country, 

E'en as my song here sayeth. 

There stood the Ella's kindred 

The Ringmar Heath all over ; 

The host fell ; wrought the toil there 

The ward of Harald's heirship. 

Yet again Ottar tells of this fight thus : 

O king, I heard that thy war-host 
Piled up a dead heap heavy 
Far from the ships, and reddened 
All Ringmar Heath in blood there. 
There thick and fast before thee 
In shield-roar land-folk louted, 
And many a band of English 
In flight fell ere the end was. 

Then the land was yet wider laid under the 
sway of King yEthelred ; but the Thing-men and 
the Danes still held many burgs, and in many 
places the Danes yet held the land. 

XIV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 7 


KING OLAF was captain of the host when 
they held on to Canterbury, and fought 
there right on until they won the town, 
killing an host of folk there, and burning the town. 
So says Ottar the Swart : 

Thou wroughtest, king, great onset 
On the kings' kin ; Canterbury 
The broad, upon a morning, 

thou blithe king, thou tookest. 
Full fiercely o'er the dwellings 
Played fire and reek. Fair kin's son, 
Thou winnedst the fight : there heard I 
Thou smotest down men's life-days. 

Sigvat counts this the eighth fight of King Olaf : 

1 wot that the battle's meter, 
Peril of Wends, here wrought him 
The eighth of stours. The stark ward 
Of warfolk set on the work there. 
Port-Reeves might not ban Olaf 

Of their town of Canterbury ; 
To the valiant of the Port-folk 
'Twas many a thing brought sorrow. 

Thereupon King Olaf had in hand the guarding 
of the land in England, and went with warships 
about off the coast and hove into Newmouth ; there 
was before him an host of the Thing-men, and 
they had battle, and King Olaf won the victory. 
So says Sigvat the Skald : 

The young king all unlaggard 
Wrought red polls for the English. 
Brown blood came on the brands there, 
Once more in fight at Newmouth. 
IV. C 

1 8 The Saga Library. XV 

There fell the host of Dane-folk, 
Where drave most spears on Olaf. 
Fight-wielder from the East-land, 
Now have I rymed nine battles. 

Thereupon King Olaf fared wide about the land 
and took tribute from the folk, or else harried 
them. So says Ottar : 

O far-famed king, in nowise 
The folk of the kin of England 
Might aught prevail against thee. 
When scat thou tookst relentless. 
Unseldom were folk yielding 
Gold to their lief lord rightful. 
Whiles, heard I, things full precious 
Fared down unto the sea-strand. 

There Kine Olaf tarried this time for three 


BUT in the third spring King ^thelred 
died, and then his sons Edmund and 
Edward took kingdom. Then King Olaf 
went south over sea, and he fought withal in 
Ringfirth and won a castle on the Knolls wherein 
the vikings sat, and he broke down the castle. So 
says Sigvat the Skald : 

The tenth was all fulfilled 

With the drift of the wall of battle 

In Ringfirth fair. The war-host 

Held thither as the king bade. 

There let the king be broken 

The Knoll's high house of the vikings. 

Thereafter prayed they never 

For speeding such as that was. 

XVI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 9 


THEN King Olaf went with his host west 
to Grisla-pool, and fought there with 
vikings off WilHam's-by, and there King 
Olaf won the victory. As Sigvat says : 

Eleventh stour, O Olaf, 
Thou wroughtest where the lords fell 
In Grisla-pool. O pine-stem ! 
Young from that war-thing cam'st thou. 
Heard I that yon brisk battle, 
Fought off the town of the trusty 
Earl William, harmed the war-helms. 
The tale to tell is little. 

Next thereafter he fought west in Fettlefirth, as 
says Sigvat : 

The fair-fame's follower reddened 
The wolf's tooth for the twelfth time 
In Fettlefirth : was fated 
Thereat life-ban of many. 

Thence Olaf fared south right away to Seliu- 
pool and had a fight there ; and there he won the 
town called Gunvaldsburg, a great and an ancient 
one, and there he laid hands on the earl who ruled 
over the town and hiofht Geirfin. Then Kino;" 
Olaf held parley with the men of the town, and he 
laid a fine upon it, and claimed in ransom for the 
earl twelve thousand gold shillings. And the 
money he laid on the town was paid him. So 
says Sigvat : 

20 The Saga Library. XVI I -XV III 

O bright lord of the Thrand-folk, 
The thirteenth stour thou wroughtest 
At SeUapool in Southlands, 
Where slain was very fleeing : 
Doughty the king let march in 
To Gunvaldsburg the ancient \ 
And on the earl lay hand there, 
Who had to name e'en Geirfin. 


AFTER that King Olaf went with his host 
west to Charles-water and harried there, 
and there had a battle. But while King 
Olaf lay in Charles-water and waited for fair wind, 
being minded to sail on to Norfisound and thence 
out into Jerusalem-world, he dreamt a noteworthy- 
dream, that there came to him a man noble-looking 
and well-favoured, yet awful to behold, and spoke 
to him, bidding him give up his mind of faring out 
into far-off lands : " Fare back to the lands of thy 
birthright, for thou shalt be a king of Norway for 
time everlasting-." He deemed the dream to be- 
token that he should be king over the land, and 
his kinsmen after him, for a long time. 


F'^ROM this vision he turned back his ways^ 
\ and laid him against Peita-land (Poitou), 
and harried there, and burnt there the 
cheaping-stead called Warrand. So says Ottar : 

XIX TJie Story of Olaf the Holy. 2 1 

O young king battle-merry, 
Peita thou lett'st be wasted ; 
Thou triedst shields bestained 
In Tuskaland, O lord king. 

And still further Sigvat says thus : 

The lord above the Mere-folk, 
Reddener of mouths of metal, 
When from the south he wended. 
Made way along Loire-water. 
Before those Niords of battle 
Was Warrand burned. So call they 
A town far off the sea-board. 
In dwelt-in Peita country. 


KING OLAF had been a-\varrlng west in 
Valland for two summers and one winter. 
At that time there had worn from the 
fall of Olaf Tryggvison thirteen winters. That 
while earls had ruled over Norway : first Eric and 
Svein, the sons of Hakon, and afterwards the sons 
of Eric, Svein and Hakon ; and Hakon was the 
son of a sister of King Knut Sveinson. In Valland 
that while were two earls, William and Robert, 
whose father was Richard, Earl of Rouen, and 
they ruled over Normandy. Their sister was 
Queen Emma, whom .-^thelred, King of the 
English, had had for wife. Their sons were 
Edmund and Edward the Good, Edwy and Edgar. 
Richard, Earl of Rouen, was the son of Richard, 
the son of William Longspear ; he was the son of 
Rolf Wend-a-foot, the earl who won Normandy, 
who was the son of Rognvald the Mighty, Earl of 

22 The Saga Library. XX 

Mere, as is written afore. From Rolf Wend-a- 
foot are come the earls of Rouen, who long there- 
after claimed kinship with lords in Norway, and 
set store thereby for a long while after, and were 
at all times the greatest friends of all Northmen, 
and all Northmen had peace-land in Normandy if 
they cared to take it. 

In the autumn King Olaf came into Normandy 
and tarried there through the winter in Seine- 
water, and had there a land of peace. 


AFTER the fall of King Olaf Tryggvison 
Earl Eric gave truce to Einar Thambar- 
skelfir, the son of Eindrid, the son of 
Styrkar. Einar went with the earl north into 
Norway, and it is said that Einar was of all men 
the strongest and best bowman in Norway, and 
the hardness of his shooting beyond all other men. 
He shot with a blunt shaft through an ox-hide 
raw-wet which hung on a pole ; he was skilled at 
snow-shoeing better than any other man, and was 
a man of the greatest prowess and valour ; of 
great kin he was, and wealthy withal. Earls Eric 
and Svein gave to Einar their sister Bergliot, the 
daughter of Hakon ; she was a woman most high- 
mettled. Their son was called Eindrid. The 
earls gave to Einar great grants in Orkdale, and 
he became the mightiest and noblest man within 
the laws of Thrandheim, and the greatest stay and 
the dearest friend to the earls was he. 

XXI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 23 


^ ^ THENAS Olaf Tryggvison ruled over 
\ /A / Norway he gave his brother-in-law, 
V V Erling, half the land-dues along with 
him, and therewith a moiety of the king's revenues 
between Lidandisness and Sogn. King Olaf 
wedded another sister of his to Earl Rognvald, 
the son of Wolf, who for a long time ruled over 
West Gautland. Wolf, the father of Rognvald, 
was brother to Sigrid the Haughty, the mother of 
Olaf the Swede-king. Earl Eric was not well 
pleased at Erling's having so mickle dominion, 
and he took to himself all the king's revenues 
which King Olaf had made over to Erling. But 
Erling took, just as before, all land-dues through- 
out Rogaland, so that the dwellers of the land 
paid often twofold land-dues, for otherwise he 
wasted the dwelt-land. Of fines and forfeitures 
the earl gat but little, for bailiffs might not hold 
out long there, and even the earl himself went 
a-banquetting there only if he had a throng of men 
about him. So says Sigvat : 

The brother-in-law of Olaf 
(That trustiest son of Tryggvi), 
E'en Erling awed the earl's kin, 
As the king's own self availed not. 
The nimble lord of the yeomen 
Gave also unto Rognvald 
Another of his sisters : 
l>ife-luck unto Wolf's father. 

Earl Eric did not venture upon fighting with 

24 The Saga Library. XXI 

Erling, for this cause, that he had many and great 
kinsmen, a mighty man, and well-beloved. More- 
over, he sat alway with many folk about him, even 
as if there were a king's court. Erling was oft 
a-warring in summertide, and gat wealth to himself 
thereby, whereas he kept up his wonted state and 
lordliness, although now he had lesser revenues and 
of less surety than in the days of King Olaf his 
brother-in-law. Erling was of all me:i the goodliest, 
the biggest and strongest, skilled at arms better 
than any man, and in all feats of prowess most 
like unto King Olaf Tryggvison ; he was a wise 
man and eager-minded in all things, and the 
greatest warrior withal. Whereof Sigvat telleth : 

None was there of the landed 
Of those that lacked of lordship. 
Who more of fights had fought in 
Than had the mighty Erling. 
The bounteous man was bearing 
His pith into the onset, 
First entering many a battle, 
And last for the most part leaving. 

It has alway been the say of men that Erling was 
the noblest of all landed lords in Norway. These 
were the children of Erling and Astrid : Aslak, 
Skialg, Sigurd, Lodin, Thorir, and Ragnhild, 
whom Thorberg, son of Arni, had to wife. 

Erling had ever about him ninety freed-men or 
more, and the wont there was, winter and summer, 
to have drinking by measure at day-meal board, but 
at night-meal board the drink was not measured. 
But at those times when the earls were anigh, 
he had about him two hundred men or more. 

XXII-III The story of Olaf the Holy. 2^ 

Never went he about with fewer men than a 
twenty-banked keel full manned. Erling had a 
large cutter of two-and-thirty banks, and large of 
hull at that ; in her he went a viking warfare, and 
to the folk-levy, and aboard her were two hundred 
men or more. 


E"^ RLING had ever thirty thralls at home, 
\ besides other serving-folk ; to his thralls 
^ he allotted each day's work, which being 
done, he gave them leave and leisure, each one 
who wished, to work for himself in the dusk or at 
night ; he gave them acre-land wherein to sow 
corn for themselves, and to get them money by 
the increase thereof; he set a price and ransom 
on each of them, and many redeemed themselves 
the first or the second year, but all in whom was 
any thrift redeemed themselves in three years. 
With that money Erling bought himself other 

But as for his freed- men, some he set to herring 
fishing, some about other ingatherings, while some 
cleared woods, and in the clearings set up house ; 
all of them he made folk of some substance. 


WHEN AS Earl Eric had had sway over 
Norway for twelve winters, there came 
to him word from Knut the Dane- 
king, his brother-in-law, that Eric should go with 

26 The Saga Library. XXIII 

him on warfare to England with his host; for 
Eric was much famed for his wars, in that he had 
gained the day in two battles of those which had 
been the most fiercely fought in the Northlands : 
one wherein Earl Hakon and Eric fought the 
Joms-vikings, the other wherein Eric fought with 
Olaf Tryggvison. As telleth Thord Kolbeinson : 

Praise have I whereas heard I 
How that the lord be-praised 
Sent word to the lord the helm-wont, 
The lord of lords be-landed, 
That without fail should Eric 
Yet once again betake him 
To dear and lovesome meeting. 
Well wot I the king's pleasure. 

The earl would not lay the king's message 
under his head ; he fared out of the land, but he 
left behind Earl Hakon his son to heed the land, 
and gave him into the hand of Einar Thambar- 
skelfir, his brother-in-law, that he should be the 
earl's counsellor in the ruling of the land, for he 
was as yet not older than seventeen winters. Eric 
came to England and met King Knut, and was 
with him when he won London. Earl Eric fought 
to the west of London, where he felled Wolf- 
kel Snilling. So saith Thord Kolbeinson : 

The gold-wise let join battle 

Unto the west of London, 

The well-praised grove of the sea-horse 

Held battle for the land's sake. 

There e'en it was that Wolfkel, 

All daring in the shield-rain, 

Gat sore strokes of the Thing-men, 

Where shook warfolk's blue edges. 

XXIV-V The story of Olaf the Holy. 27 

Earl Eric was in England one winter, and had 
certain battles, but the next autumn he was 
minded to go on a pilgrimage to Rome ; but 
therewith he died of a blood-lettingf there in 


KING KNUT had many battles in 
England with the sons of yEthelred, 
King of the English, and now one, now 
the other got the victory. He came to England 
the same summer wherein yEthelred died. Then 
Knut gat for wife Emma, the queen ; and their 
children were Harald, Hordaknut, Gunnhild. 

King Knut made such peace with King Edmund 
that each of them should have one-half of England. 
In the same month Eadric Streona slew King 
Edmund, whereupon King Knut drove out of 
England all the sons of King ^thelred. So says 

Sigvat : 

Knut slew therewith 

All sons together 

Of ^thelred, 

Or drove forth each one. 


THAT summer came the sons of yElthelred 
the King to Rouen in Valland to the 
brothers of their mother, whenas Olaf 
Haraldson came from his western viking- fare, and 

28 The Saga Library. XXVI 

were all together that winter in Normandy, and 
made fellowship between them on such terms that 
King Olaf should have Northumberland if they 
should get for themselves England from the Danes. 
Then sent Olaf to England that autumn Rani 
his fosterfather to gather folk there, and the sons 
of y^thelred sent him with tokens to their friends 
and kinsmen, but Olaf handed to him much money 
to the end that he should lure folk to them. 
And so Rani abode in England through the 
winter, and got the faith and troth of many mighty 
men ; for to the folk of the land it was more to 
their will to have a home-born king ; yet by then 
was the might of the Danes waxen so great that 
all the folk of the land were broken under their 


N the spring they went from the west all 
toofether, Kinor Olaf to wit and the sons of 
yEthelred, and came to England at the place 
called Youngford, and there went aland with 
their company, and made for the town. Therein 
were awaiting them many folk such as had pro- 
mised them their aid. The town they took, and 
slew a many men. 

But when the men of King Knut were aware 
thereof, they gathered together an host, and soon 
waxed so many that the sons of -^thelred had not 
strength against them, and saw that the best they 
might do was to get them gone and away west 

XXVI I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 29 

back to Rouen again. Then King Olaf sundered 
him from them, and would not go to Valland. He 
sailed north along England all the way to North- 
umberland, and hove-to in the haven which is 
called Wald, and fought there with the town's folk 
and chapmen, and got the victory there and much 


KING OLAF left the longships behind 
there, but fitted out thence two round- 
ships, and had then two hundred and 
sixty men all byrnied and well chosen. He sailed 
north into the main in harvest-tide, and had right 
heavy weather at sea, so that there was peril of 
life ; but whereas they had a doughty company and 
the good luck of the king they got safely through. 
So says Ottar : 

O Bounteous of the tempest 

Of corpse-fire, thou arrayedst toward 

Two westland keels. In peril 

Oft thrustedst thou, kings' thoft-mate ! 

Strong stream of sea-waves' welter 

The cheaping-ships had mangled, 

If at that while less worthy 

Had been the crew within board. 

And again thus : 

Nought had ye fear of M^vc 
All o'er the wide sea faring ; 
No folk-lord found him ever 
Crew doughtier than your sea-lads. 

30 The Saga Library. XXVIII 

O son of Harald, often 
The craft was strained full sorely, 
But the ship cast off the high seas, 
Or e'er ye made mid Norway. 

Here it is said that King Olaf came from the west 
upon the midmost of Norway, and the island where 
they landed is called Sele, and lies off Stad. Then 
spake King Olaf that he was minded to think it 
was a happy day on which they had landed at Sele 
in Norway, and said it would be a good token 
that so it had come to pass. Then they went 
up on the island, and the king stepped with one 
foot into mire, steadying him with the other knee. 
Then spake he : " Lo, now I fell," says the king. 
Then answers Rani : " Thou falledst not, king, but 
settest thy feet fast in the land." The king laughed 
thereat, and said: "So may it be, if God will." 
Then they went down to the ships, and sailed 
south to Wolfsounds. There they heard of Earl 
Hakon, that he was south in Sogn, but was looked 
for to come north so soon as a fair wind befell, and 
but one ship he had. 


KING OLAF steered his ships inward out 
of the high water-way when he came 
south past Fjalir, and turned in to Sau- 
dungsound and lay there ; each ship they laid near 
either shore of the sound, and had between them a 
thick cable. At that very hour rowed into the sound 
Earl Hakon Ericson with a fully-manned cutter, 

XXVIII The story of OlaffJie Holy. 31 

he and his men thinking that but two chapmen 
ships were in the sound ; so into the sound they 
rowed forth between the ships. Now King Olaf 
and his men haul the cable up under mid-keel of 
the cutter, winding it with windlasses ; and forth- 
with when the cutter was fast, it rose aft and sank 
forward, so that the sea fell in over the prow, fill- 
ing the cutter, which presently turned over. King 
Olaf took there Earl Hakon swimming, and all 
such of his men as they might lay hand on ; but 
some they slew, and othersome sank to the bottom. 
So says Ottar : 

Feeder of blood-seas' blue choughs. 
Fulfilled of wealth, thou tookest 
The brave-found Hakon's cutter, 
And them withal aboard it. 
Feeder of mew of Thrott's Thing, 
A youngling sought'st thou hither, 
Thy birth-lands rightly craving, 
Nor might the earl withstand it. 

Earl Hakon was led on board the king's ship. 
He was the goodliest man that men had set eyes 
on ; mickle hair he had and fair as silk, and a 
ofolden band done about his head. He took his 
seat in the fore-hold. Then said King Olaf: 
" No lie is it that is told of you kinsmen, how 
well-favoured ye are to look on ; but gone now 
is the luck of you," 

Then spake Hakon : " This is no ill-luck which 
we have fallen on. It has long: been that now 
one, now the other is overcome. So has it fared 
betwixt my kinsmen and thine, that now one, now 
the other has come to his above. I am come but 

32 The Saga Library. XXVIII 

a little way from the age of childhood. Nor were 
we now in a good way to defend ourselves : we 
wotted not any unpeace at hand ; maybe some 
other time we shall come off better than now." 

Then answers King Olaf : " Dost thou not mis- 
doubt thee, earl, that now a thing hath befallen 
thee whereby henceforth thou wilt never gain or 
lose the day ? " 

The earl says : " As at this time, thou, O king, 
must be master." 

Then says King Olaf: "What wilt thou do, 
earl, that I let thee fare for this time whithersoever 
thou wiliest whole and unscathed ? " 

The earl asks what he biddeth him. 

The king answers : " Nought else than that 
thou fare from the land and give up thy dominion, 
and swear oath to this, that thou wilt hold no 
battle ag^ainst me from henceforth." 

The earl answered and gave out that so would 
he do. Now the earl winneth oath to King Olaf 
that never henceforth shall he fight against him, 
nor defend Norway with unpeace against King 
Olaf, nor fall on him. Then King Olaf gave life 
to him and his men withal ; and the earl got back 
the ship which he had had thither. So row men now 
their ways thence. Hereof telleth Sigvat the Skald : 

The mighty king, the fame-fain, 
Quoth he had need be seeking 
A meeting with Earl Hakon 
In Saudungsound the ancient. 
The stern young lord there met he 
The earl, of earls the second, 
And born of highest kindred 
Of all men of the Dane-tongue. 

XXIX-X The story of Olaf the Holy. 33 


THEREAFTER the earl gat him ready 
at his speediest to leave the land, and 
sailed west to England, where he fell in 
with King Knut, his mother's brother, and tells 
him how all had gone between him and King Olaf. 
King Knut gave him a wondrous good welcome ; 
he set Hakon at his side within his court, and gave 
him great dominion in his realm ; and so Earl 
Hakon tarried there a long while with Knut. 

When Svein and Hakon ruled over Norway 
they made peace with Erling Skialgson with this 
covenant, that Aslak, the son of Erling, gat for 
wife Gunnhild, the daughter of Earl Svein ; and 
they settled that father and son, Erling and Aslak, 
should have all those grants which Olaf Tryggvi- 
son had bestowed on Erling. So Erling became 
full friend of the earls, and hereto they bound 
themselves with oaths to each other. 


KING OLAF the Thick now turns east 
away along the land, and had in many 
places motes with the bonders ; and 
many became his liegemen, while some gainsaid 
it, such to wit as were kinsmen or friends of Earl 
Svein. Therefore King Olaf went with all speed 
east to Wick, and hove with his host into the bay, 
and beaches his ships, and then turns his ways up 
into the land. And when he came to Westfold, 

IV. D 

34 The Saga Library. XXX 

many men greeted him well, of them who had 
been acquaintance or friends of his father ; and 
there were a many of his kindred there about 
the Fold. In the harvest-tide he went upland to 
King Sigurd his stepfather, and came there early 
on a day. But when King Olaf came near to the 
homestead, certain serving-lads ran before to the 
house and into the chamber. Therewithin sat 
Asta, the mother of King Olaf, and some women 
with her. Then the lads told her of King Olafs 
journey, and this withal, that his speedy coming was 
to be looked for. Asta stands up forthwith and 
called upon carles and queans to dight the place at 
their best ; she let four women take the array of 
the guest-chamber and adorn it speedily with 
hangings and bankers ; two men bore in haulm on 
to the floor ; two set up the trapeza and the great 
bowl ; two set out the boards and served up the 
victual ; two she sent away from the stead ; two 
bore in the ale ; but all the rest, men and women 
alike, went out into the garth. Those sent away 
went to King Sigurd where he was, and brought him 
his robes of estate, and a horse with a forgilded 
saddle and the bit beset with smalts, and all done 
with gold. Four men she sent away into all four 
corners of the countryside, and bade to her all the 
great people there for a banquet, whereas she was 
making a welcome-ale for the coming of her son. 
All other men who were there at home she bade 
don the best raiments they had, and lent good 
clothes to those who owned none such themselves. 

XXXI The story of Olaf the Holy. 35 


KING SIGURD SOW happened to be 
out in the fields when the messengers 
came to him and told him of these 
tidings, and of all the todo that Asta was at in the 
house at home. He had a- many men there, some 
of whom cut corn, some bound it, some carted it 
home, while othersome stacked it, or stored it into 
barns. But the king and two men with him would 
whiles be going into the acres, whiles there whereas 
the corn was being stored. Of his array it is told 
that he had on a blue kirtle, blue hose, and high 
shoes laced to the leg ; a grey cape he had on, and 
a wide-brimmed grey hat, and an orle round the 
face ; a staff in his hand, with a forgilded silver 
knop and a silvern ring therein. So is it told 
about King Sigurd's manner of mind, that he was 
a man of mickle business, and a great husband of 
his stock and store, and looked himself after his 
own household ; no man of show was he, and 
rather few-spoken withal ; he was the wisest of all 
men who were then in Norway, and wealthiest in 
chattels ; peaceful withal was he, and nought 
griping. Asta, his wife, was openhanded and 
high-mettled. These were their children : Guth- 
orm was the oldest, then Gunnhild, then Halfdan, 
then Ingirid, then Harald. 

Now spoke the messengers : " Such words Asta 
bade us bear thee, as that she deemed she would 
set great store by thy now doing after the manner 
of a great man, and she prayed that thou shouldest 

2,6 The Saga Library. XXXII 

rather take after the kindred of Harald Hairfair 
in thy courage, than after Rani Thin-neb, thy 
mother's father, or Earl Nereid the old, though 
men of mickle wisdom they were." 

The king answers : " Great tidings do ye tell, 
and verily ye put them forth to me eagerly. 
Much has Asta erst made of such men, as it was 
less her duty so to do by them than now, and well 
I see that she hath still the same temper as afore- 
time ; and with mickle eagerness she takes this 
matter in hand, if she will so lead her son out, as that 
it be done in as stately a fashion as now she leadeth 
him in. But so meseemeth, if this shall be so, they 
that pledge themselves to this cause will be giving 
due heed neither to their wealth nor their life. This 
man, King Olaf, is fighting against exceeding 
odds, and upon him and his redes lieth the wrath 
of the Dane-king and the Swede-king, if he hold 
on the way wherein he now is." 


NOW when the king had thus spoken, he 
sat down and let draw off his footgear, 
and did on his feet a pair of cordovan 
hose, whereto he bound gilded spurs; thereupon 
he cast off cape and kirtle, and arrayed himself 
in costly raiment, and over all a cloak of scarlet, 
and girt himself with a sword adorned, and set 
upon his head a forgilded helm, and then mounts 
his horse. 

He sent workmen about into the countryside, 
and chose for himself thirty men in goodly raiment 

XXXIII The story of Olaf the Holy. 37 

who rode home with him. But when they rode up 
into the garth before the house, then saw he where, 
on the other side of the garth, forth flew the 
banner of King Olaf, he himself following it, and 
an hundred men with him all well dight. All about 
between the houses withal stood men in array. 

Straightway King Sigurd greeted his stepson 
King Olaf and his company from on horseback, 
and bade him in for a drinking with him ; but Asta 
went up and kissed her son, and bade him tarry 
with her, saying that all was welcome to him that 
she might give him, both lands and folk. King 
Olaf thanked her well for her words. She took 
him by the hand and led him after her into the guest- 
chamber and up to the high-seat. King Sigurd got 
men to give heed to their garments and give corn 
to their horses, but he went to his high-seat, and 
with all bravery was that banquet done. 


BUT when King Olaf had been there no 
long while, it befell one day that he called 
to him for talk and counsel King Sigurd, 
his stepfather, and Asta, his mother, and Rani, 
his fosterer. Then King Olaf took up the word : 
" So it is," says he, "as ye know, that I have come 
hither to this land after having been for a long 
while in the outlands. All this while I and my 
men have had for our maintenance but such as we 
have sought us in war ; and in many places have 
we had to run the risk of body and soul therefor. 

38 The Saga Library. XXXIII 

Many a man, as sackless as he were, hath had to 
forfeit his wealth at our hand ; yea, some their Hfe 
into the bargain ; while outland men sit on the 
wealth which erst my father owned, and his father, 
and each after the other of our kinsmen, and 
whereunto I am lawfully born. Nor are they 
content with this, but they have taken to them 
moreover all that we kinsmen owned who are 
come down from King Harald Hairfair in a 
straight line ; to some they allow a little thereof, 
to othersome nothing at all. Now shall that be 
unlocked to you, which for a long while has abided 
in my mind, to wit, that I am minded to claim my 
father's heritage, and that I shall go see neither 
the Dane-king nor the Swede-king, nor pray for 
aught of it from them, although they have now for 
a while called their own that which was the 
heritage left by Harald Hairfair. Nay, sooth to 
say, I am rather minded to seek mine heritage at 
point and edge, and for that end to crave the avail 
of all my kindred and friends, and of all such as 
may be willing to turn them to me in this matter. 
And in such wise am I minded to set afoot this 
claim, that one of two things shall be : either that 
I shall own and rule over all that dominion from 
which they felled King Olaf Tryggvison, my 
kinsman, or else, that I shall fall here on my own 
kin-heritage. Now I look for this from thee, 
stepfather Sigurd, and from such other folk in the 
land as are right-born to kingdom here, according 
to the laws which Harald Hairfair set up, that ye 
will not be lacking so much that ye will not rise up 
to thrust away from you this shame of our kindred, 

XXXIII The story of Olaf the Holy. 39 

in such wise that ye will put forth all your might 
to strengthen him who is willing to take the lead 
in raising up our kindred. But whether or no thou 
art willing to show manliness in this matter, yet 
know I the mind of the commonalty, that all folk 
would be fain to rid themselves of the thraldom 
of outland lords so soon as they may have a man 
to trust in. 

" Now for this reason have I broached this matter 
to none before thee, that I know thou art a wise 
man and knowest well how to look to it, in what 
way this enterprise should be set afoot at the out- 
set, whether by privily talking it over to certain 
people, or by setting it forth in open speech to all 
folk. I have now somewhat reddened tooth on 
them, in that I laid hands on Earl Hakon, who 
now has fled out of the land and given over to me 
with sworn oaths that part of the realm which 
heretofore was his. Now I am minded to think 
that I shall have an easier task on hand in dealing 
with Earl Svein alone, than it would have been if 
they had been both together in the warding of the 

Now King Sigurd answereth : " No little 
matter abideth in thy mind. King Olaf. And 
meseemeth, as I account it, this matter is rather 
one of high metde than of foresight, and, forsooth, 
it is to be looked for, that long asunder is my 
litdemindedness from the high heart which is 
in thee ; for then, whenas thou wert but a litde 
way from thy childhood, thou wast already filled 
with mastery and overbearing in all things whereas 
thou mightest ; moreover, now thou art much 

40 The Saga Library. XXXIII 

tried in battle and hast shaped thyself after the 
fashions of outland chieftains. Now, I wot well, 
that when thou hast once made up thy mind to this, 
it will be of no avail to let thee ; moreover, it is 
but meet that matters of this kind should weigh 
heavily in the mind of men who are somewhat of 
champions, whenas the whole kindred of Harald 
Hairfair and their kingdom falleth down. But to 
no pledges will I bind me until I know the mind 
or the undertakings of other kings of the Uplands. 
However, thou hast done well in that thou didst 
make known to me this purpose before thou 
spakest it out loud to the folk. I will promise 
thee my furtherance with kings and other lords, 
and the rest of the folk of the land withal. And 
therewith. King Olaf, art thou welcome to my 
wealth for thy furtherance. But on this one 
condition I will that we bear this before the 
commonalty, that I see first how far it is likely 
that there should be any furtherance thereof, 
or any avail forthcoming for so great a matter. 
For, make thy mind up to this, that thou hast 
taken much on thine hands, if thou shalt deal 
in masteries with Olaf the Swede-king, and with 
Knut, who is now king both in England and 
Denmark ; and with strong props must thine 
affairs be stayed, if they are to prosper. But not 
unlike do I deem it, that thou wilt speed well 
with folk-raising ; for the whole folk is fain of 
new things. So fared it erst, when King Olaf 
Tryggvison came into the land ; for thereof all 
folk were fain ; yet for no long while did he enjoy 
his kingdom." 

XXXIV Tlie story of Olaf the Holy. 41 

When the redes had gotten so far, Asta took up 
the word : " So is it with me, son, that I am 
fain of thee, and of this fainest, to wit of thy much 
might and pith ; to that end will I spare nought 
that I have to give. But there is but little of 
profitable counsel to be looked for whereas I am ; 
but this would I rather, if there were such a 
bargain to be made, to wit, that thou shouldst be 
over-king of Norway, though thou livedst no 
longer in the kingdom than did Olaf Tryggvison, 
rather than thou shouldst be no greater a king 
than Sigurd Sow and shouldst die of old age." 

After these words they broke up the meeting. 

There tarried Olaf a while with all his company, 
and King- Siofurd entertained them at table one 
day with fish and milk, one day with flesh-meat 
and ale, turn and turn about. 


AT this time there were many kings in the 
Uplands who ruled over folk-lands, and 
were mostly come of the kin of Harald 
Hairfair. Over Heathmark there ruled two 
brothers, Roerek and Ring, and in Gudbrands-dale, 
Gudrod. In Raumrealm also was a king; and 
one king there was who had Thotn and Hatha- 
land ; in Valdres there ruled a king likewise. 

Now King Sigurd Sow had a meeting with 
these folk-kings up in Hathaland, whereat was 
also Olaf Haraldson. Then Sigurd laid before 
the folk-kings, with whom he had bespoken the 

42 The Saga Library. XXXIV 

meeting, the business of Olaf his stepson, and prayed 
them for help, both as to men, counsel, and 
alliance. He told up how needful it was for 
them to put from their hands the oppression 
whereunder the Danes and Swedes had laid 
them ; and said that now would be forthcoming 
the man who would lead in this adventure. 
Therewithal he told up many deeds of prowess 
which King Olaf had done in his journeys and 
warfare. Then spoke King Roerek: " True it is 
that greatly has come down the might of King 
Harald, since not one of his kinsmen is an over- 
king in Norway. Now the folk of this land have 
tried it diversely. King Hakon Athelstan's 
fosterson was king here, and all folk liked it well. 
But when the sons of Gunnhild ruled over the 
land, all men wearied of their tyranny and wrong- 
doing, so that men would liefer have outlandish 
kings to rule over them, and be freer to do as 
they would, seeing that the outlandish lords were 
ever far away, and meddled but little with the 
ways of men, so that they had of the land such scat 
as they had settled for themselves. But when 
Harald the Dane-king and Earl Hakon fell out, 
the Joms-vikings harried in Norway, and the 
whole throng and multitude of the people betook 
them to withstanding the vikings and thrust from 
off them that unpeace. So folk egged Earl Hakon 
on to hold the land in the Dane-king's despite, 
and to ward it with point and edge. But when 
he deemed that he was fully come into dominion 
through the furtherance of the people of the land, 
he became so hard and so overbearing to the 

XXXIV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 43 

land-folk that men tholed him not, and the 
Thrandheimers themselves slew him, and had into 
dominion Olaf Tryggvison, who was law-born to 
the kingdom, and in every way had the makings 
of a ruler in him. The whole throng of the land 
thrust in to have him for a king to rule them and 
to rear up anew the realm which Harald Hair- 
fair had made his own. But when King Olaf 
deemed himself fully established in his dominion, no 
man was free before him to do his own will ; and 
in overbearing fashion he went at us small kings, 
claiming for himself all the dues which King 
Harald had gathered in here, yea, and in some 
things going still further than he did. But so far 
from men being free to do as they would, no one 
might so much as have his way as to what god 
should be trowed. But since he was taken from 
the land, we have till now held to the friendship of 
the Dane-king, and in him have we had great 
avail in all things which we needed to crave for 
ourselves ; self-freedom therewithal, and easy life 
in the land, and no overbearing. Now is this to be 
said as to my mind, that I am well content with 
things as they are ; I wot not, though a kinsman 
of mine rule in the land, whether my right shall be 
bettered in aught thereby. And but I know it, 
I shall have no share in this adventure." 

Then spake Ring his brother : " I shall uncover 
my mind. Methinks it is better, even though I 
have but the same lands and dominion, that a 
kinsman of mine should be king in Norway than 
outlandish lords ; for then might our kindred be 
uplifted again here in the land. Now my mind 

44 ^'^^ Saga Library. XXXV 

forebodes me, as concerning this man, Olaf, that 
his fate and fetch will rule it whether he shall 
get the kingdom or not ; but if he become over- 
king of all Norway, then, methinks, he will be 
deemed to be in better case who can tell up more 
matters for his friendship. As now he is in no 
way better off than any one of us ; nay, so far 
worse, that we have some land and dominion 
whereover to rule, but he has none at all ; and we 
no less than he are rightly born to the kingdom. 
Now shall we make us men of such avail to him 
as to win him the highest dignity here in the land, 
and back him up with all our might. Why then 
should he not reward it us well, and remember it 
long for good, if he be of such great manhood as I 
think, and as all men say ? Now shall we risk the 
venture to bind friendship with him, if I may have 
my will." Thereupon stood up one after the other 
and spoke ; and the upshot was, that most were 
rather more willing to bind fellowship with King 
Olaf. He promised them his full friendship and 
right-booting, if he should be sole king over 
Norway. So this covenant they bind with sworn 


THEREUPON the kings called together 
a Thing ; and then Olaf set forth to the 
folk this counsel, and the title he has to 
the kingdom there ; he craveth of the bonders 
that they take him for king over the land, and 

XXXVI The story of Olaf the Holy. 45 

promiseth in return the ancient laws to them, and 
therewithal to ward the land against outland war- 
hosts and lords ; to this end he spoke long and 
deftly, and gat good word for his speech. Then 
stood up the kings, one after the other, and all 
furthered this cause and errand before the folk. 
And at last it came to this, that Olaf was given 
the king's-name over all the land, and the land 
was doomed to him according to Upland law. 


THEN King Olaf set out on his journey, 
and let banquets be arrayed for him 
wherever there were kingly manors ; and 
first he fared about Hathaland, and then sought 
north into Gudbrands-dales. Then matters went 
as King Sigurd had guessed, in that folk drew to 
him so mickle, that he deemed he was not in need 
of the half thereof, and had by then wellnigh three 
hundred men. By reason of this the banquets as 
settled beforehand served him not ; for it had 
heretofore been the wont that kings fared about 
the Uplands with a following of sixty or seventy 
men, but never more than an hundred. So the 
king fared swiftly over the land, staying but one 
night in each place. But when he came north to 
the mountains, then dight he his ways and came 
north over the mountain, and fared on till he came 
down north from the mountains. King Olaf came 
down to Updale and tarried there for a night. 
Then he fared through Updalewood and came 

46 The Saga Library. XXXVII-VIII 

down in Middledale, where he craved for a Thing 
and summoned to him the bonders. Then spoke 
the king at the Thing, and craved that the bonders 
should take him for king, offering them in return 
right and law, even as Olaf Tryggvison had done. 
The bonders had no might to hold strife against 
the king, and so it ended, that the bonders took 
him for king and bound themselves thereto with 
sworn oaths. But they had before sent news down 
to Orkdale and also to Skaun, and let tell of the 
goings of King Olaf all that they wotted. 


{ manor at Houseby in Skaun ; but when 
^ came to him the news of the farings of 
King Olaf, he straightway let shear the war- 
arrow, sent it to all four quarters, and summoned 
thane and thrall with all weapons ; and this went 
with the bidding, that they were to ward the land 
against King Olaf The arrow-bidding went to 
Orkdale and even to Gauldale, and from all there- 
about an host was drawn together. 


KING OLAF fared with his host down to 
Orkdale, and fared all quietly and with 
peace. But when he came down to 
Griotar, he met there the gathering of the bonders. 

XXXVIII Tlie Story of Olaf the Holy. 47 

and they had more than seven hundred men. So 
King Olaf arrayed his company, for he deemed 
the bonders would be minded to fight. And when 
the bonders saw this, they fell to arraying them, but 
that went all the less smoothly whereas before- 
hand nothing had been settled, as to who should 
be captain over them. Now when King Olaf 
saw how unhandily matters went with the bonders, 
he sent to them Thorir, son of Gudbrand, and 
when he came, he said that King Olaf had no 
mind to fight them, and named twelve men who 
were the noblest of their flock, and bade them 
come to meet King Olaf. The bonders took that, 
and went forth over a certain edge-hill which was 
there, whereas stood the battle of the king. Then 
spake King Olaf: "Ye, bonders, have now done 
well, in that I have now the choice of speaking 
with you ; for that will I tell you, concerning my 
errand hither to Thrandheim. And this in the be- 
ginning, that I wot ye have heard erst that I and 
Earl Hakon met last summer, and so ended our 
dealings, that he gave to me all the dominion 
which he had here in Thrandheim, which is, as ye 
wot, the Orkdale-folk, the Gauldale-folk, the 
Strind-folk, and the Isle-folk withal. And I have 
here the witnesses who were there, and saw the 
handsel between me and the earl, and heard the 
words and oaths, and all the covenant which the 
earl made with me. Now, I will bid you law and 
peace even according to that which King Olaf 
Tryggvison bade you before me." 

He spoke long and bravely, and it came to this, 
at last, that he bade the bonders two choices, one 

48 The Saga Library. XXXIX 

to come under his hand and to yield him obe- 
dience, and the other to have a battle with him 
then and there. Thereupon the twelve bonders 
went back to their band, and told them how they 
had sped, and sought rede from all the company 
as to which to take. Now although they wrangled 
over this between themselves for a while, yet they 
chose in the end to come under the king's hand ; 
and this was bound with oaths on the bonders' 
behalf. Then the king arrayed his journey, 
and the bonders made banquets of welcome for 

Thereafter the king journeyed down to the sea 
and betook himself a-shipboard. He had a 
twenty-benched longship from Gunnar of Gelmin ; 
another twenty-benched keel had he from Lodin 
of Vigg ; a third twenty-benched craft he had 
from Angrar on the Ness, which homestead Earl 
Hakon had owned, and the steward thereover 
was he who is named Bard the White. The king 
had besides some four or five cutters, and speedily 
he fared and held in up the firth. 


E"^ ARL SVEIN was then up Thrandheim 
\ at Steinker, and let array there a Yule 
^ feast; there was a cheaping-stead. Einar 
Thambarskelfir heard that the men of Orkdale 
had come under the hand of King Olaf, and so 
sent to Earl Svein men with the news, who first 
went down to Nidoyce and took there a rowing- 

XL The Story of Olaf the Holy. 49 

cutter which Einar owned. Thereupon they sped 
up the firth and came late on a day up to Steinker, 
and bore these tidings to the earl all about the 
journey of King Olaf. The earl had a longship 
which floated tilted before his homestead. So 
forthwith the same evening he let flit aboard his 
loose money and the raiment of his men, and 
drink and victuals, as much as the ship would 
hold, and they rowed down firth straightway that 
same night, and came at dawn of day to Skarn- 
sound. Thence they saw where King Olaf came 
up the firth with his host, and so the earl turned 
towards land inward of Maswick ; a thick wood 
was there, and they lay so close to the clifls that 
leaves and limbs reached out over the ship. Then 
they cut large trees and set them out -board 
right down to the sea, and the ship might not be 
seen because of the leafage, nor was it full day- 
light when the king rowed up past them. The 
weather was calm, and the king rowed up past 
the island. And when they were hidden out of 
each other's sight, the earl rowed out into the 
firth and all the way down to Frosta, where they 
made land ; for there was the earl's dominion. 


EARL SVEIN sent men out into Gauldale 
for Einar his brother-in-law ; and when 
Einar came to the earl, the earl told him 
how all things had gone between him and King 
Olaf, and this therewith, that he was minded to 
IV. E 

50 The Saga Library. XL 

gather an host together and go to meet King Olaf 
and fight with him. Einar answers thus : " Take 
we our counsel heedfully, and let us keep spying 
thereafter as to what King Olaf may be minded 
for ; let this alone be heard of us, that we are 
keeping quiet ; for then, if he heareth not of our 
hosting, may be that he will sit down in quiet at 
Steinker over Yule, whereas now there are all things 
well arrayed. But if he hear that we have on 
hand an hosting, he will make out of the firth forth- 
with, and we shall have nothing of him." So was it 
done as Einar spoke, and the earl went a-feasting 
among the bonders of Stiordale. 

Now King Olaf, when he came to Steinker, 
took all the goods for the banquet and had them 
borne aboard his ships, and gat also ships of burden 
therefor, and took with him all victuals and drink, 
and gat him gone at his speediest and held out to 
Nidoyce, where King Olaf Tryggvison had let set 
a cheaping-stead and reared a king's-house ; but 
before that there was only one house in Nidness, 
as is writ afore. But when King Eric became 
ruler of the land he favoured Ladir, where his 
father had had his chief abode, but he left un- 
heeded the houses which King Olaf had let build 
on the Nid; and some were now tumbled down, 
while othersome, though standing, were scarce 
meet for dwelling in. King Olaf steered his ships 
up into the Nid ; and forthwith he let dight for 
dwelling the houses yet standing, and rear those 
up again which were fallen down, and had thereat 
a throng of men ; and he let flit into the houses 
both the drink and the victuals, being minded to 

X LI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 5 1 

sit there Yule-tide over. But when Earl Sveiii 
and Einar heard this, they laid their plan on their 


name of a man of Iceland ; he had been 
for a long time with Earl Sigvaldi, and 
later with Thorkel the High, the brother of the 
earl, but after the fall of the earl, Thord turned 
chapman. He happened on King Olaf when he 
was on his western viking-fare, and became his man 
and followed him ever after ; and when these tid- 
ings befell he was with the king. Sigvat was the 
son of Thord, and was fostered with Thorkel of 
Apewater. But when he was wellnigh a full- 
grown man, he fared out from the land with certain 
chapmen ; and the ship came to Thrandheim in the 
harvest-tide, and the shipmates took quarters in the 
countryside. This same winter came King Olaf 
to Thrandheim, as hath been written e'en now. 
But when Sigvat heard that his father was there 
with the king, he went to the king, and met Thord 
his father, and abode there awhile. Sigvat was 
early a good skald ; he had made a song on King 
Olaf, and bade the king give ear to it ; but the 
king said he would have no songs made on him, 
and says he knows not how to listen to songcraft. 
Then Sigvat answers : 

All-noble scather of mirk-blue 
Steed of the tilt, now hear me ; 

52 The Saga Library. XLI 

For well can I in song-craft, 

And sure one skald thou mayst have, 

Though wholly thou mayst thrust off 

The praising of all other. 

For thee, AU-Wielder, surely 

Shall I get good might of singing. 

Kins: Olaf orave to Sigrvat for songr-reward a 

golden ring which weighed half a mark. Sigvat 

became one of King Olaf's body-guard. Then he 

sang : 

O Battle-Niord, fain took I 
Thy sword to me ; that would I, 
Nor blamed the deed thereafter. 
Yea, 'twas a thing praiseworthy. 
O stem of the lair of the brother 
Of the serpent, well we bargained : 
A true house-carle thou gettest, 
And I a right good master. 

Earl Svein had let take half sailing-fees for the 
Iceland ship, as had been the wont aforetime ; for 
Earl Eric and Earl Hakon had one half of that 
revenue just as of all others in Thrandheim. But 
when King Olaf was come there, he appointed his 
men to gather in half sailing-fees from Iceland 
ships ; but those of this ship went to see the king, 
and prayed Sigvat for his help, so he went before 
the king and sang : 

Prayer-wearing shall they call me, 
The gladdeners of fight-vulture. 
If now for the cloaks I pray me, 
Erst sea's fire have we taken. 
Waster of lair of mead-worm. 
Half sailing-dues yet grant thou 
To go back to the round- ship ; 
'Tis I myself have craved it. 

X LI I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 53 


EARL SVEIN, he and Einar Thambar- 
skelfir drew together a great host, and 
went out to Gauldale by the upland ways 
and make out for Nidoyce, having wellnigh twenty 
hundred men. Kino- Olaf's men were out on 
Gaulridge keeping guard on horseback, and got to 
spy how the host went down Gauldale, and brought 
the king the news by midnight. So forthwith 
King Olaf stood up and let wake the host, and 
straightway they went aboardship and bore out all 
their raiment and weapons, and everything they 
might get away with, and thereupon rowed out of 
the river. Even at that nick of time came the 
host of the earl into the town, and they took all the 
Yule victuals and burnt all the houses. So King 
Olaf fared down the hrth to Orkdale, and there 
went off from the ships, and so fared up through 
Orkdale right up to the mountains, and east over 
them to the Dales. It is told of this, to wit, that 
Earl Svein burnt the homestead of Nidoyce, 
in that lay which was made on Klseng, the son of 

Brusi : 

All-wielder's half-made houses, 
By the very Nid-side burnt they. 
Deem I that fire the hall felled, 
On the host the flame shot ashes. 

54 TJie Saga Library. XLIII-IV 


THEN King Olaf fared southward along 
the Gudbrands-dales, and from thence 
down to Heathmark. Through the heart 
of winter he went all about a-guesting, but when 
spring set in, he drew an host together and went 
down to the Wick ; from Heathmark he had a 
large company which the kings gat for him. 
Thence fared many landed-men and rich bonders, 
and in that band was Ketil Kalf from Ringness. 
From Raumrealm, too. King Olaf had some folk : 
King Sigurd Sow, his stepfather, came and joined 
him with a large following. 

So they made down for the sea and betook 
themselves aboardship and made ready from the 
inner Wick, and a fair host and a mickle had they. 
But when they had dight all their host, they made 
out for Tunsberg. 


FORTHWITH after Yule Earl Svein 
gathered an host together all about Thrand- 
heim, and biddeth the muster, and dighteth 
his ships. In those times there was in Norway a 
multitude of landed-men, and many of them were 
mighty men, and of so great kindred that they 
were sprung from the blood of kings or of earls by 
but a short tale of forefathers, and mighty wealthy 
they were withal. But all the trust of the kings or 
the earls that ruled over the land was in the 

XLV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 55 

landed-men ; for so it was, that in every folk-land 
the landed-men ruled over the throne of the 
bonders. Now Earl Svein was friendly with the 
landed-men, and therefore he sped well in the 
muster of his host. Einar Thambarskelfir, the 
brother-in-law of Earl Svein, was with him, and 
many other landed-men ; many, too, who in the 
winter before had sworn oaths of fealty to King 
Olaf, both landed-men and bonders. Now forth- 
with when they were ready they set off out of the 
firth and held south along the land, and drew 
together men out of every folk-land. But when 
they came south past Rogaland, then came to 
meet them Erling Skialgson, and had a great host, 
and with him were many landed-men. On they 
held with all the host east to Wick, and it was at 
the time when Lent was wearing that Earl Svein 
sought in to the Wick ; he brought his host past 
Grenmar and came to anchor off Nesiar. 


THEN King Olaf held with his host down 
the Wick, and but short way there was 
now between them, and each knew of the 
other on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. King 
Olaf was aboard the ship which was called 
Carl's-head, on the stem whereof was carven the 
head of a king, and that he himself had carved. 
That head was long sithence in Norway used on 
ships which chieftains steered. 

56 The Saga Library. XLVI 


ON the Sunday morning, as soon as day 
dawned, King Olaf stood up and arrayed 
himself and went ashore, and let blow up 
for all the host to go ashore. Then had he talk 
with the host, and tells all folk that he had learnt 
that there was but a short way between him and 
Earl Svein. " Now," said he, " shall we get ready, 
for there will be short while to abide till we meet 
Let men now get their weapons, and let each one 
bedight him and his place whereunto he has already 
been marshalled, so that all men be all-dight when 
I let blow for departure ; sithence row we in close 
array ; let none fare before the whole fleet fareth, 
and let none lag behind then, when I row out of 
the haven ; for we may not know whether we shall 
come upon the earl where he is lying now, or 
whether they be seeking to set on us. But if we 
meet each other and a battle befall, let our men 
close up the ships, and be ready to lash them ; 
at first let us but ward us, and take we good heed 
of our weapons, lest we bear them on to the sea, or 
hurl them into the deep. But when the battle is 
pitched, and the ships have been grappled, then 
make ye the brunt as hard as ever ye may, and 
let each one do at his manliest." 

XLVI I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 57 


KING OLAF had on his ship an hundred 
men in ring-byrnies and Welsh helms. 
Most of his men had white shields with 
the holy cross laid thereon in gold, while some 
were drawn with red stone or blue ; a cross withal 
he had let draw in white on the brow of all helms. 
He had a white banner, and that was a worm. 
Then he let sing him the Hours, and thereafter he 
went aboard his ship, and bade men eat and drink 

Thereafter he let blow the war-blast, and they 
set off out of the harbour, rowing in search of the 

But when they came off the haven where the earl 
had lain, there was the earl's host under weapons, 
and was minded to row out of the harbour ; but 
when they saw the battle of the king they began 
to lash the ships together, and set up their banners, 
and made ready. But when King Olaf saw that, 
they fell to their oars, and the king laid aboard 
the ship of Earl Svein, and straightway the battle 
was joined. So says Sigvat the Skald : 

The king wrought men much onset 
Where he thrust into the battle 
On Svein amidst the haven. 
Red blood on Rodi's deer fell. 
Their valiant king held onwards, 
Relentless, where he wrought him 
The war-mote bold. There Svein's men 
Were binding ships together. 

Here it is said that King Olaf went into battle, 

58 The Saga Library, XLVII 

but Svein lay before him in the harbour. Sigvat 
the Skald was there in the battle ; he wrought 
forthwith the next summer that "lay" which is 
called the Nesiar-ditties, and there he tells care- 
fully of these tidings : 

I know how that craftsmaster 
Of point-frost let lay Carl's-head, 
All nigh unto the earl there, 
Unto the east of Agdir. 

The fight was of the fiercest, and it was a long 
while ere one looking over it might see which way 
it would turn. Fell a many on either side, and a 
multitude were wounded. So says Sigvat : 

No need to taunt Earl Svein then, 
Or Olaf battle-merry, 
For the breeze of the moon of battle. 
Or gale of the din of sword-edge. 
For each of that twain of warriors. 
They had full choice of hewing 
Where each on each fell. Never 
Came host to worser fight-stead. 

The earl had the more numerous host, but the 
king a chosen crew aboard his ship, that had 
followed him in war, and was so bravely dight, as 
is aforesaid, that every man had on a ring-byrny, 
and thus they gat no wounds. So says Sigvat : 

Glad saw I the cold byrnies 
Over our shoulders falling, 
In the host of the king the noble : 
Hard there betid the sword-din. 
There was my black hair hidden 
By Welsh helm from the shaft-flight. 
Fight-fellow, then I knew us 
So dight in the host of battle. 

XLVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 59 


BUT when folk began to fall on board Earl 
Svein's ship, and some were wounded, 
and the crew grew thinner along the gun- 
wale, then King Olafs men turned to boarding 
the earl's ship ; so the banner was borne up 
aboard the ship which lay nearest to that of the 
earl, and the king himself followed the banner. 
So says Sigvat : 

The golden staff rushed on there 
Where we furtherers of the sark-din 
Of Gondul went 'neath banners 
With the glorious king on war-ship. 
Aboard that steed of tackle 
'Twas nought as when a maid bears 
Mead to the king's wage-takers ; 
'Twas metal-greeting rather. 

There was then a brisk brunt, and of Svein's 
men some fell thick and fast, but othersome sprang 
overboard. So says Sigvat : 

All wroth we rushed on swiftly 
Up on the ship : there heard we 
High crash of meeting weapons ; 
Brands reddened shields to-cloven. 
There went the wounded bonders 
Out-board whereas we battled. 
Unfew swam corpses beach-ward, 
Ships bravely dight were taken. 

And again this : 

The white shields we came bearing 
For us there folk did redden : 

6o The Saga Library. XLVIII 

Easy it was to see it 
How there we dealt the sword-voice. 
The young king whom we followed, 
Methinks the war-ship boarded. 
Blood gulp gat the fowl of battle 
There, where the swords were blunted. 

Then the fall of men turned to the host of the 
earl, and the king's men set upon the ship of the 
earl, and were on the very point of boarding her. 
But when the earl saw to how hopeless a pass 
things were come, he called upon his forecastle- 
men to cut the cables and let loose the ships, and 
even so they did. Then the king's men caught 
the beaks of the ships with grapnels, and thus 
held them fast. Then the earl cried out that the 
forecastle-men should hew off the beaks, and even 
so they did. So says Sigvat : 

'Twas Svein himself that fiercely 

Bade hew off the black beaks there ; 

Ere that thrust was he wellnigh 

Into ill-hap full fashioned. 

Whereas we wrought, and made there 

Good cheer unto the raven. 

For Ygg's black chough the host hewed 

Corpses around the ships' prows. 

Einar Thambarskelfir had laid his ship on the 
other board of that of the earl, and his men threw 
an anchor into the prow of the earl's ship, and thus 
they all drifted together out into the firth ; and 
after that the whole host of the earl took to flight, 
and rowed out into the firth. 

Bersi, the son of Skald-Torfa, was in the fore- 
hold of Earl Svein's ship ; so when the ship 
glided forth by the fleet, then speaketh King Olaf 

X LVI 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy. 6 1 

on high when he knew Bersi, who was a man 
easily known, the goodhest to look on of all men, 
and wondrous well bedight of weapons and rai- 
ment : " Fare ye hail, Bersi ! " " Hail to thee, 
king ! " said he. So says Bersi in that song which 
he wrought, when he came into King Olafs power, 
and sat in fetters : 

Thou badest this craftsmaster 

Of song-craft hail be faring, 

And such-like did I answer 

Unto the fight's swift driver. 

I loth of hindrance, bidder 

Of fire of the good ship's outland, 

Sold the same word of the high-born 

That I bought of the bole of byrny. 

I have seen Svein's mighty trouble, 

We two have fared together 

Where bright cold tongues of war-swords 

Were singing loud and swiftly. 

No man forsooth henceforward 

Shall I follow, none full surely 

That shall be nobler bidder 

Of the tempest of the wave-elk. 

swayer of wound-serpent, 

1 crawl not so before thee, 
(This year forsooth I tarry 
In Ati's skate no little.) 
That I, O wage-good captain 
Of war-hosts, should throw over 
Dear friends, or come to loathe them. 
Young knew I there thy foeman. 

62 The Saga Library. XLIX-L 


NOW fled ashore some of Earl Svein's 
men, but some gave themselves up to 
quarter. Then Earl Svein and his host 
rowed out into the firth, and laid their ships 
together, and the chiefs had parley together ; and 
the earl sought rede of the landed-men. Erling 
Skialgson counselled that they should sail to the 
North-country and get an host together, and once 
more fight with King Olaf. But inasmuch as 
they had lost much folk, most all of them urged 
the earl to leave the land and go meet the Swede- 
king, his brother-in-law, and strengthen himself 
thence with war-host ; and that counsel urged 
Einar Thambarskelfir ; whereas he deemed that 
as then they had no means wherewith to fight 
aeainst Kinor Olaf. Then sundered their host, 
the earl sailing south about the Fold, and Emar 
Thambarskelfir with him. Erling Skialgson, and 
many other landed-men besides, such as would not 
flee away from their birthright lands, went north 
to their homes, and that summer through Erling 
had a great company about him. 


KING OLAF and his men got aware that 
Earl Svein had laid his ships together ; 
then King Sigurd egged on to fall on the 
•earl and file the steel home. King Olaf says he 

L The Story of Ola/ tJie Holy. 63 

will first see what counsel the earl taketh up, 
whether they keep the host together, or it sun- 
dereth from him. Sigurd said he would belike 
be having his way : "But this my mind fore- 
bodes me," says he, " that with thy temper and 
masterfulness thou wilt but late make those bio-- 
bucks trusty men, whereas they have erst been 
wont to hold themselves big against their lords." 
Now the onset came to nought, and soon they 
saw how the earl's host sundered. Then Kino- 
Olaf let ransack the slain ; and they lay there 
certain nights, and shared the war-gettings. Then 
Si^vat the Skald sang- these staves : 

Yea, this I deem moreover, 
That many a murder-craftsman 
Who fared from the North shall fail him 
Of home-fare from that hard stour. 
Full many a sound-sun's spender 
From off the splice-knot's war-steed 
Sank down unto the sea-ground. 
At sea we met Svein soothly. 

Now the fair Thrandheim maidens 
This year shall never taunt us. 
Though lesser was the king's host ; 
Forsooth of brunt was somewhat. 
That host the brides shall rather 
Mock now, if one be mocked. 
Who beardling went in onset. 
The skerries' field we reddened. 

And still this : 

The king's might waxeth, whereas 
The Upland-men will further 
This sender-forth of deck-steed ; 
Svein, this hast thou found for thee ! 

64 The Saga Library. LI 

Tried is it, that Heathmarkers 
Must win more work than drinking 
The ale of the fight-up-stirrer : 
The flight of corpse-worms had they. 

King Olaf gave good gifts to King Sigurd Sow 
his stepfather at their parting, and to the other 
chiefs withal who had given him help. To Ketil 
of Ringness he gave a keel of burden of fifteen 
benches, and Ketil brought that ship up along 
Raumelf all the way up into Miors, 


KING OLAF held spies over the farings 
of the earl ; but when he heard that the 
earl was away from the land, then fared 
he west along the Wick ; drifted an host to him, 
and he was taken for king at Things, and in this 
wise he fared right on to Lidandisness. Then he 
heard that Erling Skialgson had a great gather- 
ing ; so the king tarried no longer at North Agdir, 
for he fell in with a brisk wind at will, and he fared 
at his speediest north to Thrandheim, for there he 
deemed was all the pith of the land, if he might 
there bring the folk down under him while the 
earl was away from the land. But when King 
Olaf came to Thrandheim, then was no uprising 
against him there, and there he was taken to king ; 
and he set him down there in the harvest-tide at 
Nidoyce, and there dight him winter-quarters. He 
let house a king's garth, and reared Clement's 
Church there whereas it now standeth. He 
marked out tofts for garths, and gave them to 

LI I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 65 

goodmen and chapmen, or to any others he would, 
and who were minded to house. He sat there 
with many men about him, for he trusted the 
Thrandheimer's good faith but Httle, if so be the 
earl should come back to the land. 

The Up-Thrandheimers were wyted most herein, 
whereas thence he gat no king's dues. 


EARL SVEIN fared first to Sweden to 
Olaf the Swede-king his brother-in-law, 
and telleth him all about his dealings with 
Olaf the Thick, and sought counsel of the Swede- 
king as to what he shall take up. The king saith 
the earl had better be with him, if he will have 
that, and have there such dominion to sway over 
as he deemeth befitting ; " or else," says he, '' I 
shall hand over to thee host enow to seek the land 
from Olaf's hand." This the earl chose, for all 
his men egged him thereto, whereas many of 
them who were there with him had broad lands 
in Norway. 

Now as they sat and counselled together over 
this matter, they came to accord to fare next winter 
by land, across Helsingland and lamtland and 
thence down upon Thrandheim, for the earl trusted 
the Up-Thrandheimers best for steadfastness and 
help if he came there. But in the meanwhile they 
made up their mind first to go a-warring in the 
summer-tide into the East-ways to gather wealth. 

IV. F 

66 The Saga Library, LIII-IV 


E"^ ARL SVEIN went with his host east into 
\ Garthrealm and harried there, and abode 
,> there through the summer ; but when the 
autumn set in he turned, together with his host, to 
Sweden. Then gat he the sickness which brought 
him to bane. After the death of the earl, the com- 
pany that had followed him went back to Sweden, 
while some turned to Helsingland and thence to 
lamtland, making their way from east over the 
Keel to Thrandheim, where they told the tidings 
which had befallen in their journey. Then the tale 
about the death of Earl Svein was known for a 


with the company which had followed him, 
went in the winter to the Swede-king and 
was there holden in good cheer. Therewithal 
were many other folk who had followed the earl. 
The Swede-king took it mightily ill that Olaf the 
Thick had sat him down in his scat-land and driven 
away Earl Svein ; for that cause the king vowed 
the heaviest lot on Olaf, as whenso he might bring 
it about ; says he, that Olaf would not be so over- 
bold as to take under him the dominion which 
had been the earl's before, and all the men of the 
Swede-king were of one mind with him that so 

LV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 67 

would it be. But when the Thrandheimers heard 
for a truth that Earl Svein was dead, and that he 
was not to be looked for in Norway, then turned 
a.11 the commonalty to the obedience of King Olaf 
Then fared many men from Up-Thrandheim to 
meet King Olaf and became his men, while other- 
some sent words and tokens that they were wish- 
ful to serve him. That harvest therefore he went 
into Up-Thrandheim and held Things with the 
bonders, and in every folk-land he was taken to 
king. Thereupon he went back out to Nidoyce, 
and let thither be grathered all the kinof's dues and 
made ready there for winter-quarters. 


KING OLAF let house a king's garth at 
Nidoyce. There was done a big court 
hall with a door at either end, but the 
high-seat of the king was in the midmost of the 
hall. Up from him sat Grimkel, his court-bishop, 
and next to him again other clerks of his ; but down 
from the king sat his counsellors. In the other 
high-seat straight over against him sat his marshal, 
Biorn the Thick, and then the guests. If men of 
high degree came to King Olaf, they were well 
seated. By litten fires should ale be drunk. He 
appointed men to their services according as custom 
was among kings. He had about him sixty body- 
guards and thirty Guests, and assessed them wages 
and gave them laws. Withal he had thirty house- 
carles to work all needful service in the garth and 

68 The Saga Library. LVI 

at whatso ingatherings were needful ; he had many 
thralls withal. In the garth also was a mickle 
hall wherein slept the body-guard, and there was 
withal a mickle chamber wherein the king held 
his court councils. 


IT was the wont of King Olaf to rise betimes in 
the morning and dress and take a hand-bath, 
and then to go to church to hear matins and 
morning-tide, and then to go to council to appease 
men, or to talk and tell whatso else he deemed 
needful. He summoned to him rich and unrich, 
and all such as were accounted wisest. Often let he 
tell before him the laws which Hakon Athelstan's 
fosterson had set forth in Thrandheim. He framed 
laws by the rede of the wisest men, and took out 
or added whatever seemed good to him ; but the 
canon right he framed by the counsel of Bishop 
Grimkel and other clerks, and set his whole heart 
on putting down heathendom and ancient wonts 
wherein he deemed was Christ-scathe. At last it 
came to this, that the bonders yeasaid these laws 
which the king set forth. Even as says Sigvat : 

Dweller in loft of yoke-beast 
Of the wave, 'tis thou must fashion 
The land's-right standing steadfast 
Amidst the host of all men. 

King Olaf was a man of good manners, 
full mild, few-spoken, open-handed, but wealth- 

LVI I The Story of Olaf the Holy, 69 

Then was with King Olaf Sigvat the Skald, 
as was writ afore, and othersome Iceland men. 
King Olaf asked after it carefully, how Christian 
faith was holden in Iceland, and deemed it lacked 
much of being well ; for they told the king of the 
holding of the faith there, that it was allowed 
in law to eat horseflesh, and cast out children, even 
after the fashion of the heathen, and other things 
else, wherein was Christ-scathe. Withal they told 
the king of many of the great men that then were 
in Iceland. Skapti, the son of Thorod, then had 
the law-say in the land. 

The manners of men wide in lands would he ask 
of such men as wotted clearest thereof, and led most 
his questioning towards the holding of Christ's faith 
in Orkney and in Shedand and in Faroe, and learnt 
that widely it fell far short of being well kept. Such 
talk would he oftenest have in his mouth, or dis- 
course about law or the right of the land. 


THAT same winter came from the east 
from Sweden messengers from Olaf the 
Swede-king, who had two brothers over 
them, to wit, Thorgaut Harelip and Asgaut Bailiff 
with four-and-twenty men. But when they came 
from the east over the Keel into Veradale, they 
summoned a Thing of the bonders and had parley 
with them, and claimed of them then and there 

70 The Saga Library. LVII 

dues and scat on behalf of the Swede-king. But 
the bonders took counsel together and were of one 
consent that they would yield what the Swede- 
king craved, if Olaf, King of Norway, should claim 
no land-dues of them on his behalf; said they, 
that they would not pay dues to both of them. So 
the messengers left and made their way down 
along the dales, and at every Thing holden they 
got from the bonders the same answers, but no 
money ; thence they fared out to Skaun and had 
a Thing there, and again craved the payment of 
dues, but all fared the same way as before. Then 
they went to Stioradale and craved Things there, 
but the bonders would not so much as come 

Now the messengers saw that their errand was 
nought, so Thorgaut was minded to fare back 
east. " Meseems," said Asgaut, "that we have 
not yet sped the king's errand ; I will fare to meet 
King Olaf, since the bonders put their case to 

So he had his way, and they fared out to the 
town, where they took harbour. 

Next day they went to the king as he sat at 
table, and greeted him, and said that they were 
come with an errand of the Swede-king. The 
king bade them come see him the next day. So 
that next day, when the king had heard hours, he 
went to his Thing-house and let call thither the 
Swede-king's men, and bade them put forth their 

Then spoke Thorgaut, telling first on what 
errand they fared and were sent; and next how 

LVII The Story of Olaf the Holy, 71 

the Up-Thrandheimers had answered. After that 
he bade the king settle what-Hke speed their 
errand thither should have. 

The king says: "While earls bore sway here 
over the land, it was nought wondrous that the 
folk of the land should pay their dues to them, 
since they had a birthright title to the realm, rather 
than that they should lout before outland kings ; 
it was more right, moreover, that the earls should 
give fealty and service to such kings as had rightly 
come to the realm here, than to outland princes, up- 
rising with unpeace against the rightful kings and 
cutting them away from the Land. But for Olaf 
the Swede-king, who claimeth Norway, I know not 
what title, in which there be truth, he hath thereto ; 
but hereof we may mind us what man-scathe we 
have gotten at the hands of him and his friends." 

Says Asgaut : " It is not to be wondered at 
that thou art called Olaf the Big, so bigly as thou 
answerest the message of such a lord ; unclearly 
wottest thou, how heavy to bear shall be the wrath 
of the king, as they have come to know to their cost, 
who had more of pith than meseems thou wilt 
have. But if thou wilt masterfully hold the realm 
rather, thou wert better go meet him and become 
his man, and then we will pray along with thee 
that he be pleased to enfeof thee of this realm." 

Then answereth the king, and took up the words 
in lowly wise : " Other rede have I for thee, Asgaut. 
Fare ye now back to your king, and tell him this, 
that early next spring I shall dight me east for the 
land-marches, where of old was the sunderinof 
of the realms of the King of Norway and of the 

72 The Saga Library. LVII 

Swede-king ; and then he may come thither if he 
will, so that we may frame peace together, on 
such terms that each of us rule over that realm to 
which we have birthright." 

Then turned away the messengers and back to 
their harbour, and made ready for departing ; but 
the king went to table. Thereafter the messengers 
went into the king's garth, but when the door- 
wards saw that, they told the king thereof, who 
bade them not let the messengers in : "I will not 
speak with them," says he. So the messengers 
went their ways. 

Then says Thorgaut that he is minded to turn 
back with his men, but Asgaut says that he 
has made up his mind to carry the king's business 
through. Then they parted, and Thorgaut took his 
way up to Strind, but Asgaut and his men, twelve 
in all, turned up to Gauldale and thence out 
to Orkdale, being minded to fare south to Mere, 
there to carry out the business of the Swede-king. 

But when King Olaf was ware thereof, he sent 
the Guests after them : they happened on them at 
Stone, out on the Ness, laid hands on them, and put 
them in bonds and led them up to Gauledge, and 
there raised a gallows and hanged them where 
they might be seen out of the firth from the high 
sea-way. These tidings Thorgaut heard or ever 
he fared back from Thrandheim. Thereupon he 
went all the way until he fell in with the Swede- 
king, and tells him all that had betid in their 
journey. The king was full wroth when he heard 
this said, and there was no lack then of high 

LVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 73 


NEXT spring King Olaf Haraldson bade 
out folk from Thrandheim, and dight 
him to fare east into the land. Then, 
also, Iceland ships got ready to leave Thrandheim. 
King Olaf sent word and tokens to Hialti Skeggi- 
son, bidding him come meet him ; he sent word 
also to Skapti the Speaker-at-law, and to those 
other men who bore most rule in Iceland, that they 
should take out of the law that which to him 
seemed to war most against Christendom. And 
therewith he sent friendly words to all the people 
of the land together. 

The king sailed south along the land and tarried 
somewhat in every folk-land, and held Things with 
the bonders. And at every Thing he let read 
out the Christian law and the ordinances there- 
unto appertaining. There and then he undid 
many evil wonts and heathendoms amongst the 
people; whereas the earls had holden well to 
ancient laws and the right of the land, but as to 
Christendom they let every one do as he would. 
At that time things had gone so far that in most 
places along the seaward countrysides men were 
christened, but Christian laws were unknown to 
most folk ; but about the upper dale-land and fell- 
dwellings folk were yet widely all-heathen ; for so 
soon as the people had their own way with it, that 
troth abode fastest in their memory which they 
had learned when they were bairns. But to those 

74 TJie Saga Library. LVIII 

who would not shape them to the will of the king 
in the holding of Christendom, he threatened evil 
dealings, were they rich or unrich. 

At every Law-Thing Olaf was taken for king 
over all the land, and then no man gainsaid him 

When he lay in Kormtsound the word went 
between him and Erling Skialgson that they 
should make peace, and a meeting for peace was 
appointed in Whiting-isle. Now, as soon as they 
met, they spoke together themselves about the 
peace, and Erling deemed that there was some- 
what to be found in the king's words other than 
what had been told him ; for he spoke for this, 
that he would have all those grants which Olaf 
Tryggvison had given him, and after him the 
Earls Svein and Hakon likewise : " Then I shall 
become thy man, and be thy faithful friend," 
says he. 

The king answers : "It seems to me, Erling, 
that it would be no worse for thee to take of me as 
great grants as thou didst take of Earl Eric, a 
man who had done to thee the greatest man- 
scathe ; but I shall make thee the noblest landed- 
man in the land, though I will bestow my grants 
of my own will, and will not let it be, that ye landed- 
men have a birthright to the heritage of my kin- 
dred, and that I must needs moreover buy your 
services for many times their worth." 

Erling had no mind to pray the king in this 
matter, for he saw that the king was not to be led. 
He saw, withal, that he had two choices to hand: 
the one, to make no peace with the king, and take 

LIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 75 

the risk how things would go, or else, to let the king 
have his own way ; so this he chose, much though 
it was against his mind, and spake to the king : 
"That service which I give to thee of mine own 
will, shall be of most avail to thee." So then they 
dropped the matter. After that Erling's kinsmen 
and friends came forward, and prayed him to yield, 
and do with wit rather than mastery : " Thou 
wilt," said they, " be ever the noblest of landed- 
men in Norway, both for thy prowess, and thy 
kindred, and thy wealth." 

Erling found that this was wholesome rede, and 
that they did by goodwill who spoke thus. Thus 
he did then, and became the king's man on such 
terms as the king determined in the end ; and 
so they parted, being at peace in words at least. 
So King Olaf went on his ways east along the 


STRAIGHTWAY when King Olaf came 
to the Wick and that was known, the 
Danes fared away, they who held bailif- 
ries there of the Dane-king, and sought to 
Denmark and would not abide King Olaf. 
But King Olaf went on up the Wick, holding 
Things with the bonders, and all the folk of 
the land came under him, and so he took to him- 
self all the king's dues there, and tarried about 
the Wick that summer through. From Tunsberg 
he held east over the Fold all the way east beyond 

76 The Saga Library. LIX 

Swinesound. Then began the realm of the Swede- 
king. Over those parts he had set for baiHffs, EiHf 
the Gautlander over the northern lot, and Roi 
Squint-eye over the eastern, all the way to the Elf. 
He had his kindred on both sides of the Elf, and 
great lands in Rising ; he w^as a mighty man and 
of plenteous wealth ; Eilif also was a man of great 
kin. Now, when King Olaf brought his host into 
Ranrealm, he summoned the men of the land to a 
Thing, and there came together to meet him those 
men who dwelt about the islands there, or nigh 
unto the sea. Now, when the Thing was set, 
spake Biorn,the king's marshal, bidding the bonders 
take to them King Olaf, even as had been done else- 
where in Norway. A man hight Bryniolf Camel, 
a noble bonder, stood up and said : " We bonders 
know what has been the rightest land-sundering 
from of old between the King of Norway and the 
Swede-king and the Dane-king, to wit, that the 
Gaut-elf has ruled it from the Vener Lake to the 
sea, but northward the Marklands have ruled it even 
unto Eidshaw, and thence the Keel all the way 
north to Finmark ; withal, that now one, now the 
other, have overrun each other's lands. The Swedes 
have long had dominion all the way to Swine- 
sound ; yet, sooth to say, I wot that many men 
are of will that they had liefer serve the King of 
Norway ; but men lack boldness in the matter, 
seeing that we have the realm of the Swede-king 
both to the east of us, to the south and inland of 
us, all about, while it may be looked for that the 
King of Norway will speedily depart north away 
into the land, where there be broader country- 

LIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 77 

sides, and then have we no might to uphold strife 
against the Gautlanders. So it behoves the kino- 
to look to some wholesome rede for us, fain as we 
are to become his men." 

Now when the Thing was over, Bryniolf was the 
guest of the king in the evening, and so also the 
next day, and many things they talked over to- 
gether in privy wise. Thereupon fared the king 
east along the Wick, and when Eilif heard that 
the king was there, he let bear spying on his ways. 
Eilif had thirty men of his following, and was up 
in the dwelt-lands on the border of the Marklands, 
and had there a gathering of bonders. 

Many bonders went to meet King Olaf, while 
others sent him words of friendship. 

Then men went between King Olaf and Eilif, 
and the franklins prayed both, for a long time, to 
appoint a Thing betwixt them, and in one way or 
another settle peace. They said to Eilif that it 
was to be looked for of the king, that if folk did 
not shape them according to his word, they might 
look for exceeding hard dealings at his hands ; and 
they said that Eilif should not lack folk. Then it 
was settled that they should come down and have 
a Thing with the bonders and the king. But then 
King Olaf sent Thorir the Long, the Guest-captain,, 
and six of them, all told, to Bryniolf. They had 
byrnies under their kirtles, and hats over their 
helmets. The next day the bonders came throng- 
ing down with Eilif; Bryniolf was there then 
amongst his company, and Thorir in Bryniolf's 
following. The king laid his ship whereas was a 
certain cliff jutting into the sea ; there he stepped 

y8 The Saga Library, LIX 

aland and sat down on the cliff together with his 
host ; but above the cliff was a field whereon was 
the gathering of the bonders, but Eilif's men stood 
up in a shield-burg around him. 

Biorn the Marshal spoke long and boldly on 
behalf of the king. But as he sat down, up stood 
Eilif and began speaking, and in that nick of time 
Thorir the Long stood up and drew his sword and 
hewed Eilif on his neck, so that off went his head. 
Then sprang to their feet the whole crowd of the 
bonders, but the Gautlanders took to their heels 
and ran off, and Thorir and his men slew some 
amongst them. But when the host halted, and 
quieted down from the turmoil, the king stood up 
and bade the bonders sit down ; and they did so, 
and many things were spoken, but in the end the 
bonders became the king's men and yeasaid him 
allegiance. But on his part he promised them in 
return not to part from them thereupon, but to 
tarry there until he and Olaf the Swede-king 
should have settled their troubles in one way or 
another. After this King Olaf laid under him all 
the northernmost bailiwick, and went that summer 
all the way east to the Elf, and got all the king's 
dues along the sea-border and from the islands. 
But when summer wore, he turned back north 
towards the Wick and made up along Raum-elf. 
In that water is a great force called Sarp, and 
from the north by the force a ness goes into the 
river. There let King Olaf do a wall, right across 
the ness, of stones and turf and wood, and let dig 
a dyke on the outward thereof ; and here he reared 
a mickle earthen burg, and within the burg he 

LX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 79 

set up a cheaping-stead, and a king's garth he 
housed there, and let make Marychurch ; there 
also he let mark tofts for other o-arths, and o-ot 
men to house the same. Through harvest he let 
flit thither such ingatherings as were needed for 
winter fare, and sat there through the winter with 
a great multitude of people, having appointed his 
own men to all bailiwicks there. He forbade all 
flitting of goods from the Wick up into Gautland, 
both herring and salt, which the Gautlanders might 
ill lack. The king had a great Yule-bidding, and 
bade to him many wealthy bonders from the 


THERE was a man hight Eyvind Urochs- 
horn, of East-Agdir kindred ; he was a 
big man and of mighty kin, and went 
every summer a-warring, whiles West-over-sea, 
whiles into the East-ways, or south to Friesland. 
He had a twenty-benched cutter well-found. 
He had been at Nesiar and griven aid to Kingf 
Olaf, and when they parted there, King Olaf 
avowed him his friendship, and Eyvind, in re- 
turn, pledged his aid to the king wheresoever he 
would crave it. This winter Eyvind was a 
Yule-guest of King Olaf, and took good gifts of 
him. There was also with the king at the time 
Bryniolf Camel, and he had for a Yule-gift from 
the king a gold-wrought sword and therewithal 
the manor called Vettland, the greatest of chief- 

8o The Saga Library. LXI-II 

steads. Bryniolf sang a ditty about the gifts^ 
whereof this is the ending : 

The famed lord he gave me 
Both brand and Vettland. 

Then the king gave him the title of a landed- 
man, and the greatest friend of the king was 
Bryniolf ever after. 


THAT winter Thrand the White went out 
of Thrandheim east into lamtland to call 
in scat on behalf of King Olaf the Thick ; 
but when he had fetched in the scat, the men of 
the Swede-king came there and slew Thrand, him 
and them twelve together, and took the scat and 
brought it to the Swede-king. That heard King 
Olaf, and it liked him ill. 


KING OLAF had bidden Christian law 
throughout the Wick even in the same 
fashion as north away in the land ; and 
that sped well, whereas to the men of the Wick 
Christian wonts were known much better than 
to folk north away in the land, in that both winter 
and summer was much thronging of merchants 
there, both of Danish and Saxon ; the Wick-men, 
withal, were very busy in chaffering journeys to 

LXIII-IV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 8i 

England and Saxland, or to Flanders or to Den- 
mark ; but some were out a-viking, and took up 
their winter-quarters in Christian lands. 


IN the spring King Olaf sent word for Eyvind 
to come to him, and they had a talk long in 
privity. Soon thereafter Eyvind got ready 
to fare a-viking. He sailed south along the Wick 
and lay-to in the Oak-isles west of Hising. 
There he heard that Roi Squint-eye had gone 
north to Ordost, and had drawn together folk 
there and land-dues on behalf of the King of 
Sweden, and was then to be looked for from the 
north. Then Eyvind rowed into Howesound, but 
Roi came even then rowing from the north, and 
in the very sound they met and fought. There 
fell Roi the White and nigh thirty men ; and 
Eyvind took to him all the wealth that Roi had 
had. So Eyvind went thence into the East-ways 
and was a-viking through the summer. 


THERE was a man hight Gudleik the 
Garthrealmer, of Agdir kindred, a mariner, 
and a mickle chapman ; wealthy withal, 
and one who went on chaffering journeys to 
sundry lands ; he would often go east into Garth- 
realm, and for that cause was called Gudleik the 
Garthrealmer. Now this spring Gudleik dighted 

IV. G 

82 The Saga Library. LXIV 

his ship, being minded to go in the summer 
east to Garthrealm. King Olaf sent him word that 
he would see him. So when Gudleik came to 
him the king told him he wished to be in fel- 
lowship with him, and prayed him to buy him 
dear havings hard to get in the land. Gudleik 
said it should be as the king would. Then let the 
king pay him such wealth as it seemed him good, 
and Gudleik went into the East-ways in the 

They lay awhile off Gothland, and here it befell 
as oft, that they were not all of them too close 
of their words, and the islanders got wind of it that 
on board the ship was a chaffering fellow of Olaf 
the Thick. Gudleik went into the East-ways in the 
summer all the way to Holmgarth, and bought 
there the cloths full-choice which he was minded 
for the king for his robes of state, and there- 
with furs of great price and a glorious table 

In harvest-tide, when Gudleik fared from the 
east, he fell in with contrary winds, and for a long 
time they lay beside Isle-land. Now Thorgaut 
Harelip had in the autumn espied Gudleik's jour- 
neyings, and he came here upon them with a long- 
ship and fought with them. They warded them- 
selves long, but inasmuch as mickle were the odds, 
Gudleik fell, and many of his shipmates, and many 
were wounded. So Thorgaut took all their wealth 
to him, together with the treasures of King Olaf, 
and he and his shared among them equally all the 
prey. "But," he says, "the treasures shall the 
Swede-king have, for," says he, " they are some 

LXV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 83 

deal of the scat which he hath to take of Norway." 
So Thorgaut went east away to Sweden. 

Now the tidings were speedily known : a little 
after Eyvind Urochs-horn came to Isle-land, and 
when he heard this he sailed away east after Thor- 
gaut and his company, and they happened on each 
other in the Swede-skerries and fought. There fell 
Thorgaut and the most part of his company, the 
rest jumping overboard into the deep. So Eyvind 
took all the wealth they had taken from Gudleik, 
and King Olaf's treasures withal. Eyvind fared 
back to Norway in the autumn, and brought his 
treasures to King Olaf. The king thanked him 
well for his journey, and promised him his friend- 
ship once more. At this time King Olaf had been 
King of Norway for three years. 


THIS same summer King Olaf had out the 
folk once more, and once more fared all 
the way east as far as the Elf, and lay 
there long through the summer. Then passed 
word-sending between King Olaf and Earl Rogn- 
vald and Ingibiorg, Tryggvi's daughter, the earl's 
wife. She furthered with all her might the help- 
ing of King Olaf, and was most headstrong in the 
matter. For two causes this went that way ; both 
because there was mickle kinship betwixt her 
and King Olaf, and moreover, because she might 
not forget it of the Swede-king that he had been 
at the fall of King Olaf Tryggvison her brother, 

84 The Saga Library. LXVI 

and for that sake she deemed she had a claim to 
the sway over Norway. Now by her pleadings 
the earl's mind was much turned towards friend- 
ship with King Olaf, and at last it came to this, 
that the earl and the king set a day between them 
and met at the Elf. There they talked over many 
things, and most chiefly about the dealings be- 
twixt the Norway-king and the Swede-king ; and 
both said, w^hat indeed was true, that both to the 
Wick-men and to the Gautlanders the sheerest 
waste of their lands was in it, that there should 
not be peace of markets betwixt the lands. Now 
in the end they made truce and peace between 
themselves till the next summer ; and at parting 
they gave gifts to each other and bespoke friend- 
ship between themselves. 


THEN the king fared north into the Wick 
and had for himself all king's dues all the 
way to the Elf, and all the folk of the 
land had then come under him. King Olaf the 
Swede harboured so great ill-will against Olaf 
Haraldson that no man was to be so bold as to 
call him by his right name in the hearing of the 
king. They called him the Thick Man, and ever 
gave him hard words whenso he was spoken of. 

LXVI I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 85 


THE bonders of the Wick spoke among 
themselves saying, that the only thing 
to be done was that the kings should 
make agreement and peace between them, and 
deemed they were ill bestead if the kings should 
be ever harrying each other ; but this murmur 
no one durst bear boldly before the king. Then 
bade they Biorn the Marshal to flit this case 
before the king, that he send men to meet the 
Swede-king to bid him peace of his own hand. 
This Biorn was loath to do and begged off ; but 
for the prayer of many of his friends he promised 
at last to lay this matter before the king, but said 
that his mind foreboded him that the king would 
take it unmeetly that he should yield in aught at 
all to the Swede-king. 

This summer came from the west from Iceland 
Hialti Skeggison at the behest of King Olaf, and 
forthwith he fared to meet King Olaf, and the 
king gave him a good welcome, bade Hialti abide 
with him, and showed him to a seat beside Biorn 
the Marshal ; and thus the two became messmates, 
and good fellowship grew up speedily betwixt them. 
But on a time whenas King Olaf had parley 
with his host and with bonders, and the affairs of 
the land were talked over, Biorn the Marshal 
spoke : " What art thou minded, king, as to that 
unpeace which here is betwixt the Swede-king 
and thee ? Now each side has lost many men at 
the hands of the other, but no settlement is there 

86 The Saga Library. LXVII 

now, any more than before, as to what of the 
realm each shall have. Thou hast now sat here 
in the Wick one winter and two summers, and left 
at the back of thee all the land north away hence \ 
now men are growing weary of sitting here, they 
who have lands and heirship in the north-country. 
Now it is the will of landed-men and of others of 
thine host, and of the bonders withal, that one road 
or other this should be sheared out ; and seeing that 
now truce and peace is established with the Earl 
of the Westgauts, who here are the nearest 
neighbours, men deem that the best thing would 
be, that thou send men to the Swede-king and 
bid him peace of your own hand, and many of 
them who are about the Swede-king would stand 
up for that matter ; for it is to the gain of both 
sides, those, to wit, who dwell in the land both 
here and there." 

At Biorn's talk the folk made good cheer. 
Then spake the king : " That rede, Biorn, which 
thou hast here upborne, it is meetest that thou 
shouldst have framed for thyself, and thou shalt fare 
on this errand ; thou shalt thrive by it, if it be well 
areded ; but if man's peril come therefrom, then 
thou thyself hast too much hand therein ; but 
withal it is thy service to speak that before many, 
which I will let speak." 

Then the king stood up, and went to church, 
and let sing high mass before him, and then went 
to table. 

Next day spake Hialti to Biorn : "Why art 
thou unmerry, man ? Art thou sick, or wroth with 
any man ? " 

LXVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 87 

Biorn tells Hialti of the talk between him and 
the king, and says that this is a doomed man's 
errand. Answers Hialti : " So it is to follow 
kings, that such men have mickle honour and 
are of more worship than other men, but oft 
come they withal into peril of life, and it be- 
hoves them to be well content with either lot. 
Mickle may can a king's good-luck ; and much 
renown may be gotten in the journey if it turn 
out well." 

Biorn said : " Thou makest light of the journey ; 
mayhappen thou wilt fare with me, for the king 
said that I should have my fellows on the journey 
with me." Says Hialti : " Fare will I soothly, if 
thou wilt ; for hard to find meseems will be 
another seat-mate when we be sundered." 



FEW days later, when Olaf the king was 
in council, came Biorn there, and they 
twelve together. So he tells the king 
that they are boun to fare on their errand, and 
that their horses were standing saddled without. 
" Now will I wot," saith Biorn, " with what 
errand I shall fare, and what rede thou layest 
down for us." Saith the king : " Ye shall bring 
these my words to the Swede-king, that I would 
set peace between our lands, according to the 
boundaries which Olaf Tryggvison had before 
me ; and let that be bound by fast words, that 
neither of us overstep them. But as to the loss 

88 The Saga Library. LX VI 1 1 

of men, there is no need to speak thereof, if peace 
shall be, for the Swede-king may nowise boot us 
with fee for all that man-scathe which we have 
gotten of the Swedes." Then the king stood up, 
and went out with Biorn and his men, and took 
forth a well-wrought sword and a finger-ring, and 
handed it over to Biorn and said : " This sword I 
give to thee ; it was given to me last summer by 
Earl Rognvald. To him shall ye go, and bring 
him my word that he give thee his counsel and help, 
that thou mayest push through thine errand ; and 
I shall deem thou hast done well, if thou hearest 
the word of the Swede-king, whether he say yea 
or nay. But this ring thou shalt hand over to 
Earl Rognvald, and these tokens will he know." 

Hialti went up to the king and bade him fare- 
well : " And much do we need, king, that thou lay 
thy good luck on this journey." And he bade 
they might meet hale again. The king asked 
whither Hialti would fare. '* With Biorn," says 
he. The king says : "It shall better this journey 
if thou fare with them, for thou hast often been 
approved a man of good luck. Know this for 
certain, that I shall lay my whole soul on it, if 
that may weigh aught, and I shall lay my luck to 
thine and to the luck of all you." 

So Biorn and his folk rode their ways and came 
to the court of Earl Rognvald, and he was welcomed 
goodly thereat. Biorn was a renowned man and 
known to many by sight and by speech ; of all 
such, to wit, as had seen King Olaf ; for at every 
Thing Biorn stood up and spoke out the king's 
errand. Ingibiorg, the earl's wife, went up to 

LXVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 89 

Hiaiti and kissed him. She knew him ; for she 
was with Olaf Trj^ggvison, her brother, when 
Hiaiti was with him, and she claimed kindred 
between the king and Vilborg, the wife of Hiaiti. 
There were two brothers, sons of Viking- Kari, a 
landed-man of Vors, Eric Bioda-skull, the father of 
Astrid, the mother of King Olaf Tryggvison, to 
wit, and Bodvar, father of Olof, who was the 
mother of Gizur the White, the father of Vilborg. 

There were they now in good cheer. But 
on a day Biorn and Hiaiti went to have a talk 
with the earl, him and Ingibiorg, and then Biorn 
giveth out his errand and showeth the tokens to 
the earl. The earl answers : " What mishap has 
come to thee, Biorn, that the king willeth thy 
death ? All the less it is well with thine errand, 
that I am minded to think that there will be no 
man who speaketh these words before the Swede- 
king, who will come away without paying the 
penalty. Over high-mettled a man is Olaf the 
Swede-king that he should suffer any to put forth 
talk before him which is against the mind of him." 

Answers Biorn : " Naught has come to hand to 
me whereby King Olaf should be wroth with me, 
but many are his counsels both concerning himself 
and his men, wherein seemeth peril to whomso 
taketh them up, unto such, to wit, as are of little 
heart. But all his redes have hitherto taken a 
lucky turn, and even so, we hope, it will fare once 
more. Now, sooth to say, earl, I will go see the 
King of the Swedes, and not turn back till I have 
let him hearken all those words which King Olaf 
commanded me to bring to his ears, unless hell 

90 The Saga Library. LXVIII 

ban it me, or fetters, so that I may not bring it to 
pass. This will I do, whether thou give any heed 
to the king's word-sending or not." 

Then said Ingibiorg : "Swiftly I shall lay bare 
my mind. My will, earl, is, that thou put thy 
whole heart into furthering the message of Olaf, 
Norway's king, so that this errand reach the ears 
of the Swede-king, whatever wise he may answer 
it. Though there lieth hereon the wrath of the 
Swede-king, or the loss of all our dominion and 
wealth, I would far rather risk this, than that it 
be told that thou layedst under head the message 
of King Olaf for fear of the Swede-king. Hereto, 
by thy birth and strength of kindred, and all thy 
dealings, thou mayest well be so free here in the 
Swede -realm as to speak thy speech, that is 
well beseeming, and which all men will deem 
worth hearkening to, whether they who hearken 
be many or few, mighty or unmighty, yea, though 
the king himself should be a-hearkening." 

The earl answers : " None may be blind as to 
whither thou eggest me. Maybe thou shalt have 
thy will in this, that I promise the king's men to go 
with them, so that they may bring it about to flit 
their errand before the Swede-king, whether the 
king like it well or ill ; but my own counsel I mean 
to follow as to how to go about the matter. For I 
will not run after the headlong ways of Biorn or 
of any other man in so mickle a matter of trouble. 
Therefore I will that they tarry until such while 
as meseemeth likeliest that some furtherance may 
be of this errand." 

Now when the earl had unlocked to them that 

LX I X The Story of Olaf tJie Holy . 9 1 

he would further them in this matter, and lay-to 
his might withal, then Biorn thanked him well and 
said he would follow his rede. And Biorn and 
his company tarried there with the earl a right 
lonof while. 


INGIBIORG was exceeding well with them. 
Biorn talked to her about his case, and 
deemed it ill that his journey should be 
tarried so long. And about this matter she and 
Hialti, yea, and all of them, would hold discourse. 
Then said Hialti : " I shall go to the king, if it be 
your will. I am not a man of Norway, and the 
Swedes will lay no wyte on me, and I have heard 
that about the Swede-king there are Icelanders 
who are well beholden there, and are of my 
acquaintance : the king's skalds, to wit, Gizur the 
Swart and Ottar the Swart. Then I shall pry 
into the matter what I may learn of the Swede- 
king, if this be so unlikely as it is now said out to 
be, or whether there be some other stuff in it ; and 
I shall hit upon that for an errand which me- 
seemeth may fall thereto." 

This Ingibiorg and Biorn deemed to be a device 
of the most wit, and they agreed thereto between 
them steadfastly. So Ingibiorg dighteth Hialti's 
faring, and got him two Gautland men, and bade 
them so much as that they should follow him, be 
his handy-men, and do service to his body, and go 

92 The Saga Library. LXX 

his errands withal. For spending-silver Ingibiorg 
did over to him twenty marks weighed. She sent 
with him words and tokens to Ingigerd, the 
daughter of King Olaf, begging her to give all 
her mind to his affair in whatsoever he might find 
it needful to crave her aid. Straightway departed 
Hialti, when he was ready. But when he came to 
King Olaf, he speedily happened on the skalds 
Gizur and Ottar, who were all-fain of him, and 
went with him forthwith before the king, and told 
him that there was come a man, who was from the 
same land as they, and was of the most worship 
in that land, and they prayed the king to give him 
good welcome there. The king bade them take 
Hialti and his fellow-travellers into their company. 
Now when Hialti had tarried there a while, and 
made himself known to men, he was held of much 
worth by every man. The skalds were often 
before the king, for they were bold of speech, and 
oft in the daytime they would sit before the high- 
seat of the king in fellowship with Hialti, and in 
all things they gave him the most worship. Then, 
withal, he became known to the king by word of 
mouth, and the king was full of talk with him, and 
asked him many things of Iceland. 


THIS had happened before Biorn fared 
from home, that he had asked Sigvat the 
Skald to fare with him, who was then 
with King Olaf ; but men were not eager for this 

LXX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 93 

journey. Between Biorn and Sigvat there was 
good friendship. He sang : 

Erst have I had good dealings 
With all the worthy marshals 
Of the war-bold king, e'en such as 
Before our lord's knee wend them. 
Oft hast thou earned me, Biorn, 
At the king's hands things goodly. 
O, fight-ice reddener, good yet 
For me thou mayst, for thou canst it. 

And when they rode up through Gautland, 
Sigvat sang these staves : 

Oft was I wet and merry, 
When shaved the heavy weather 
King Olaf's sail all wind-blown 
Out in the firths of Strind-land. 
The deeps' steed swept an-amble, 
Keels cut the lace of Listi, 
Whenas we let the cutters 
Sweep o'er the sound to leeward. 

Ships of the valiant Shielding 
By the isle we let float tilted, 
When summer was beginning. 
Off the good land and glorious. 
Comes autumn, when the horses 
Of Ekkil spurn the thorn's moor, 
Then must I take to riding. 
My diverse deeds now sing I. 

But when they rode up through Gautland, late 
one evening, then sang Sigvat : 

Now runneth steed an-hungered 
Long tracks to the hall in the glooming, 
The hoof the greensward rendeth. 
And little daylight have we ; 

94 ^-^^ Saga Library, LXXI 

O'er brooks my horse me beareth 
Far off the folk of Daneland ; 
In the dyke the lad's horse stumbled ; 
Now day and night are meeting. 

Then rode they into the cheaping-stead at 
Skarar along the street, onward to the garth of 
the earl. He sang : 

The lovely dames shall look out, 
And maidens see the reek there, 
Whereas we ride right swiftly 
All through the town of Rognvald. 
Whip horse ! so that the good wife, 
Heart-wise, may hear afar off. 
Within the house, our horses 
Running the hard trot garthwards. 


ON a day Hialti, and the skalds with him, 
went before the king. Then Hialti took 
up the word : " So it is, king, even as is 
well known to thee, that I have come here to see 
thee, and have gone a long journey and a hard ; 
but when I had come across the sea, and I heard 
of your highness, it seemed to me an unlearned 
journey, to fare back without having seen thee and 
all thy glory. Now this is a law that prevaileth 
between Iceland and Norway, that Iceland men, 
when they come to Norway, have to pay there 
land-dues ; but when I came over the sea, took I 
the land-dues of all my shipmates. Now, know- 
ing that it is most right, that to thee is all the 
power that is in Norway, I fared to find thee that 
I might pay thee the said land-dues." 

LXXI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 95 

Therewith he showed the king the silver, and 
poured into the lap of Gizur the Swart ten marks 

The king said : " Few have brought us such 
things out of Norway this while past. And I 
will can thee thanks, Hialti, and my good-will, that 
thou hast been at the pains to bring the land-dues 
unto me, rather than to yield them to our un- 
friends ; yet will I that thou take this money of 
me, and my friendship therewith." 

Hialti gave thanks to the king with many words. 
Thenceforth Hialti got himself into the greatest 
good-liking with the king, and was oft in talk with 
him. The king deemed, as was sooth, that he 
was a wise man, and deft of word. 

Now Hialti tells Gizur and Ottar that he is sent 
with tokens to the warding and friendship of 
Ingigerd, the king's daughter, and prays them to 
bring him to talk with her. They said that 
there would but little pain go thereto, and on a 
certain day they go to her chamber, where she 
sat at the drink with many men. She greeted 
the skalds well, for they were well known unto 
her. Hialti bore to her the greeting of Ingibiorg, 
the earl's wife, and said that she had sent him 
thither for her ward and friendship, and he 
brought forth the tokens thereof. The king's 
daughter took it well, and told him he was 
welcome to her friendship. There they sat a 
long while of the day, and drank. The king's 
daughter asked Hialti of many tidings, and bade 
him come thither oft to have talk with her. This 
he did, and often he came there and had talk with 

96 The Saga Library. LXXI 

the king's daughter, and so told her, under privy 
trust, of the journey of Biorn and his men, and 
asks what she thinks as to how the Swede-king 
will be likely to take that matter, that peace be set 
between both kings. The king's daughter answers 
and says, that she was minded to think there was 
no avail in seeking that the king should make 
peace with Olaf the Thick, and she said that the 
king was gotten so wroth with Olaf that he might 
not hear him named. 

It fell one day, that Hialti sat before the king 
and talked with him, and the king was then right 
merry and very drunk. Then said Hialti to the 
king : " A very great glory of many kinds is to be 
beholden here, and now, what I often have heard 
told in tale has become a very sight to me : that 
no king in the North-lands is as noble as art thou. 
Full mickle grief it is that we should have so long 
to seek hither, and so perilous, first over a mickle 
main-sea, and then across Norway, unpeaceful 
for farinof unto them who would seek hither in 
friendly wise. Or why do not men look to it, to 
bear words of peace betwixt thee and Olaf the 
Thick ? I heard it much talked about both in 
Norway and in West Gautland that all folk were 
fain if peace might be ; and this was told me for 
truth concerning the words of the King of Norway, 
that he would be glad to make peace with thee, 
and I wot that what brings it about is this, that 
he must needs see that he has far less might than 
ye have. Moreover, it was said, that he was 
minded to woo Ingigerd thy daughter, and such a 
bidding would be likeliest for a hale peace, and he is 

LXXI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 97 

a man of the greatest mark, from what I heard 
truthful men tell of him." 

Then answers the king : •' Such things thou 
shalt not talk, H ialti ; but I will not lay blame on thee 
for these words, for thou knowest not what thou 
hast to be ware of. Nowise shall that Thick Man 
be called king here in my court ; and to lean on him 
is of far less avail than many folk give out ; and even 
so wilt thou deem, if I tell thee that such alliance 
may be nought meet, whereas I am the tenth king at 
Upsala of them who have taken that kingdom one 
after the other, we having been kinsmen, and been 
sole kings over the Swede-realm, and over many 
other wide lands, and we have been all over-kings 
over other kings in the North-lands. But in Norway 
are but little dwellings, and far sundered, and there 
have been but kinglets. But Harald Hairfair was 
the greatest king in that land, and he had to do 
with kings of the folk-lands, and broke them down 
under him ; yet he knew what was meet for him, 
and not to covet the realm of the Swede-king, and 
for that reason the Swede-kings let him sit in 
peace ; and moreover this went thereto, that there 
was kinship betwixt them. But whenas Hakon 
Athelstan Fosterson was in Norway, he sat 
there in peace until he warred in Gautland and 
Denmark ; and thereafter a flock was set up 
against him, and he was cut off from his lands. 
The sons of Gunnhild withal were cutoff from life 
so soon as they became disobedient to the Dane- 
king. Then Harald Gormson laid Norway to his 
own realm and revenue, and yet we deemed King 
Harald Gormson as of lesser might than the 

IV. H 

98 The Saga Library. LXXI 

Upsala kings, inasmuch as Styrbiorn, our kins- 
man, cowed him, so that Harald became his man ; 
but Eric the Victorious, my father, strode over the 
head of Styrbiorn, when they tried it out between 
them. But when Olaf Tryggvison came to Nor- 
way and called himself a king, we did not let that 
avail him, for I and Svein the Dane-king fared 
against him, and cut him off from life. Now have I 
gotten Norway to me, and with no less of might 
than thou mightest now hear, and by no worse 
title have I come by it than this, that I have fallen 
on with war, and overcome the king that ruled it 
erst. Now thou mayst deem, wise man, that it 
will be far from me to let that realm loose to the 
Thick Man ; and indeed it is a marvel that he 
should not bear it in mind how hardly he got out 
of the Low when we had penned him up there ; 
for I ween he had then something else in 
his mind, should he escape alive, than to have 
to strive oftener with us Swedes. So, now, Hialti, 
thou shalt not again have this talk in mouth before 


Hialti deemed that the outlook was nought 
hopeful that the king would listen to any parley of 
peace. So he left off, and fell to other talk. 

A while after, when Hialti was a-talking with 
Ingigerd, the king's daughter, he told her of all 
the converse between the king and himself. She 
said she looked for such answers from the king. 
So Hialti bade her put in some word with the 
king, saying that that would perchance avail most. 
She said the king would not hearken to whatever 
she might have to say : " Yet," says she, " I may 

LXXI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 99 

put it forth if thou wilt." Hiaiti said he would 
thank her for so doing 

On a certain day Ingigerd, the king's daughter, 
was a-talking with King Olaf, her father, and 
when she found that her father was light of heart, 
she said: "What art thou minded about thy 
strife with Olaf the Thick ? Many men are now 
bewailing that trouble ; some say that they have 
lost wealth, othersome, kinsmen, and all, a land of 
peace at the hands of the Northmen ; and as matters 
now are, it is for none of thy men to come into 
Norway. It was uncalled-for of thee to lay claim 
to the kingdom of Norway ; a land poor and ill to 
traverse, and a folk untrusty ; and men in the land 
would have any one for king rather than thee. 
Now, if I might have my way, thou shouldst let 
thy claim to Norway lie quiet, and break into the 
East-lands rather for that realm which has been 
swayed over by Swede-kings of old time, and 
which Styrbiorn our kinsman hath but late laid 
under him, and let Olaf the Thick have the heritage 
of his kindred and thou to make peace with him." 

The king answered in wrath : " This is thy 
counsel, Ingigerd ! that I let loose the sway of 
Norway, and give thee in marriage to Olaf the 
Thick! No!" says he, "something else first! 
Rather shall it be that this winter at the Upsala- 
Thing I shall lay it bare to all Swedes that all 
folk shall be out before the ice is off the waters, 
and I shall fare into Norway and waste that land 
with point and edge, and burn all up, and thus 
reward them their untrustiness." 

And therewith was the king so wood wroth. 

loo The Saga Library. LXXI 

that not a word might be answered him. So she 
went away. 

Hialti was keeping watch on her and went 
straightway to see her, and asks how her errand 
to the king had sped. She said it had fared as 
she doubted, that no words might be brought 
before the king, and that he vowed threats in return 
for them ; and she bade Hiahi never get on to 
this matter before the king. 

Ingigerd and Hiahi, whenas they talked to- 
gether, would often be speaking about Olaf the 
Thick. He told her often about him and his 
ways, and praised him as he knew how, and that 
was the truest to be told of him. To such things 
she took kindly. And once again, as they were 
talking together, Hialti said: "King's daughter, 
shall I, with thy leave, say that before thee which 
stirreth in my mind ? " 

" Speak thou," said she, " so that I hear it alone." 
Then spoke Hialti : "How wouldst thou answer, 
if Olaf, Norway's king, were to send men to thee 
on the errand of wooing thee ? " She blushed 
and answered unhastily, and quietly withal : " I 
have not a steadfast mind as to my answers to 
that; for I am minded to think, that with such 
answers I shall have no need to deal. But if Olaf 
be a man so well endowed of all things as thou 
tellest of him, I should not know how to wish for 
my husband to be otherwise, if it be not so that 
thou hast gilded him with praise in many ways." 

Hialti said that he had given nothing out 
about the king better than it was. 

They talked about this privily very often. 

LX X 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy, i o i 

Inglgerd bade Hlalti beware of speaking of it 
before other folk ; " for this cause, that the king 
will be wroth with thee if he know it of a truth." 

Hialti tells these things to the skalds Gizur and 
Ottar, and they said that it was the happiest of 
redes, if it could be brought about. Ottar was bold 
of speech and fond of great lords, and speedily he 
was on this matter with the king's daughter, and 
told her the same like things as Hialti, concerning 
the king's manly prowess. And she and Hialti and 
they, all of them together, talked oft on the matter ; 
and as they would at all times be talking of this, and 
Hialti had got to know for sure, what end his 
errand had come to, he sent away the Gautland 
men, who had followed him thither, and let them go 
back to the earl with letters, which Ingigerd the 
king's daughter and Hialti himself sent to the earl 
and Ingibiorg. Hialti also let them get wind of 
the matters he had broached to Ingigerd, and of 
her answers likewise. The messeng-er came back 
to the earl somewhat before Yule. 


WHENAS King Olaf had sent Biorn 
and his men east into Gautland, he 
sent other men to the Uplands, on the 
errand of bidding guesting for him, for he was 
minded that winter to go a-guesting about the Up- 
lands ; for it had been the wont of the former kings 
to fare over the Uplands a-guesting every third 
winter. He started on the journey in the autumn 

I02 The Saga Library. LXXII 

from Burg, going first up to Vingulmark ; and went 
about the journey in this way, that he took his 
guesting inland in the neighbourhood of the wood- 
land dwellings, and summoned to meet him all the 
men of the countrysides, and those most chiefly 
who dwelt farthest away from the main dwellings. 
He ransacked men's ways of heeding Christ's 
faith, and wherever he deemed they came short, 
he taught them right manners ; and if there were 
any who would not leave off heathendom, he laid 
such penalties upon them, that some he drove 
away from the land, some he let maim of hand or 
foot, or sting their eyes out ; some he let hang or 
hew down ; and none did he let go unpunished who 
would not serve God. In this manner fared he 
about all that folk-land ; and he punished with even 
hand mighty and unmighty. He gave them clerks, 
and placed them so thick about the country as he 
deemed would do best. 

In this wise fared he throughout that folk-land. 
He had three hundred fighting-men when he went 
up to Raumrealm. He speedily found that the 
further he made his way inland, the less was 
Christian faith holden to. But he dealt therewith 
throughout in the same guise, and turned all the 
folk to the right faith, and laid heavy penalties on 
whomsoever would not hearken his words. 

LXXIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 103 


NOW when the king who then ruled over 
Raumrealm heard this, he deemed that 
a great trouble was toward ; for every 
day there came to him many men who bewailed 
them to him about these matters, some mighty, 
some unmighty. The king took that rede that he 
fared up into Heathmark to see King Roerek, for 
that he was the wisest of those kings who then were 
there. Now when the kings fell to talk together, 
they agreed to send word north to the Dales to 
King Gudrod and to Hathaland withal, to the 
king that was there, bidding them to come to Heath- 
mark to meet King Roerek and him of Raumrealm. 
They laid not that journey under their head, and 
so these five kings met in Heathmark, at the place 
called Ringacre. The fifth of the kings was King 
Ring, the brother of King Rcerek. 

Now the kings went into parley first by them- 
selves, and he, who was come from Raumrealm, 
was the first to take up the word, telling the tale 
of the journey of King Olaf the Thick, and all the 
unpeace that he wrought, both in the taking of 
men's lives and in the maiming of men ; some he 
drove out of the land, and seized the wealth of 
those who in aught gainsaid him ; over the land, 
moreover, he went with an armed host, but not 
with the number of folk which was lawful. Further- 
more, he says that he had fled thither before this 
unpeace, and that many other mighty men had 
fled away from their birthright lands out of Raum- 

104 The Saga Library, LXXIII 

realm. " Now, though this trouble be as yet 
nighest unto us, there will be little while to wait 
ere ye will have to sit under such things, and 
therefore it is better that we take counsel all 
together as to what rede we shall take up." Now 
when he had closed his harangue the other kings 
left the answering thereto to Roerek. He said : 
" Now has that come to pass, which I misdoubted 
me would be, when we met at that Thing in 
Hathaland, and ye were, every man of you, most 
eager that we should heave up Olaf Haraldson 
over our heads ; to wit, that to us he would be 
' hard to take by horn ' so soon as he had gotten 
the sole rule over the land. Now there are two 
choices to hand : one, that we all go and meet 
him and let him shear and shape all matters be- 
twixt us and himself, and that I deem the best to 
take up ; the other, to rise now up against him 
ere he has fared wider over the land. For though 
he have three or four hundred men, that makes no 
overwhelming odds, if we be all in one mind to- 
gether; but most often it happens that, when 
there are many together, all of equal powers, it goes 
worse for them as to victory, than winning does for 
him who is a sole leader of his host ; so therefore 
it is rather my counsel not to set on our fortune 
against Olaf Haraldson's." 

Thereafter spake each of the kings what words 
seemed good to him ; some letting, others urging, 
but no settlement of the matter was come to, for 
they showed, that to either case were drawbacks 
to be seen. 

Then Gudrod the Dale-king took up the word, 

LXXIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 105 

and spake thus : '' Marvellous to me is it, how 
greatly ye tangle your purpose in this matter, 
and how all-fearsome ye are of Olaf. We 
are here five kings together, not one of us 
worser of birth than Olaf. We it was who gave 
him strength to fight Earl Svein, and by our 
avail he hath gotten the land. But if he now 
begrudges each one of us the little dominion 
which we have had heretofore, and layeth on us 
torments and cowing, then can I this to say for 
myself, that I will have myself away from the king's 
thraldom, and I call that one amongst you no 
man, who is adread of this, to cut him off from life, 
if he fareth into our hands up hither in Heath- 
mark ; for this is to be told you, that never shall 
we stroke a free head so long as Olaf is alive." 

Now after this egging-on they all turned to that 
counsel. Then spake Roerek : " So meseemeth 
about this counsel of ours, that we must needs 
make our bond as strong as may be, lest any 
totter in good faith to the rest. Now ye are 
minded, when Olaf comes hither into Heathmark, 
to set upon him at some appointed meeting. 
Now, I will not trust you herein if some of 
you be then north-away in the Dales and others 
out away in Heathmark ; so I will, if this counsel 
is to abide steadfast amongst us, that we be 
together day and night until this rede be carried 

This all the kings yeasaid, and so fared away all 
together. They let dight a banquet for them out 
at Ringacre, and there they drink in gild brother- 
hood ; but have spies away out in Raumrealm ; 

1 06 The Saga Library, LX XIII 

other spies they let go out forthwith, one out 
another in, so that they know day and night what 
the tidings are about the journeys of King Olaf 
or the number of his company. 

King Olaf went guesting up along Raumrealm, 
and did all in the samelike wise as is aforetold. 
But when the entertainments fell short, for the 
sake of his much company, he let the bonders 
add fare to eke out the banquets in such places 
where he deemed it needful to tarry, but in some 
places he stayed a shorter while than had been 
settled beforehand ; so his journey up to the Water 
was quicker than had been appointed afore. 

Now when the kings had gotten fast to the 
counsel aforesaid, they sent out word, and sum- 
moned to them the landed-men and the bonders 
of might from all those folk-lands ; and when they 
came there, the kings had a meeting with them 
alone and laid bare to them their counsel, and 
settle an appointed day whenas that rede shall 
be carried through. They settle withal that each 
of the kings shall have a company of three hundred 
men. So they send back the landed-men that 
they may gather men together, and come meet 
the kings at the place appointed. This rede most 
men liked well, and yet it fell here, as the saw 
says, " Each hath a friend amidst unfriends." 

LXXIV TJie Story of Olaf the Holy. 107 


AT this meeting was Ketil of Ringness. 
But when he came home in the evening, 
he ate night-meal, and thereafter he 
arrayed him and his house-carles, and went down 
to the Water and took the ship of burden which 
he owned and King Olaf had given him, and ran 
out the craft ; but all the gear appertaining to it 
was there in the ship-house. That then they took 
and benched themselves for rowing, and pull off 
down along the Water. Ketil had forty men all 
well weaponed. 

They came early in the day down to Waters- 
end, and thence fared Ketil with twenty men, and 
let the other twenty keep guard of the ship. King 
Olaf was then at Eid, in the uppermost part of 
Raumrealm, and Ketil came there whenas the king 
was coming back from matins, and he greeted 
Ketil well. Ketil says that he will talk with the 
king speedily ; so they go aside to talk, the two of 
them. Then Ketil tells the kingr what rede the 
kings have on hand, and all the mind of them, that, 
towit,whereof he wotted. Now when the king knew 
this, he calls men to him, and sends some into the 
countrysides bidding call in to him the nags ; but 
some he sent to the Water to take row-boats, all 
they might get, and have them up to meet him ; 
but he went to the church and let sing mass 
before him, and went thence forthwith to table. 
But when he had had his meat, he got ready at his 
speediest, and went north to the Water, and there 

io8 The Saga Library. LXXIV 

some ships came up and met him. So he himself 
stepped aboard the ship of burden, and with him 
as many men as the craft would hold, but every 
one else took ship wheresoever he could get it. 
In the evening they put out from the land; the 
weather was calm, and they rowed up along the 
Water, and now the king had with him nigh four 
hundred men. Before dawn he was up by Ring- 
acre, and the warders were ware of nought till the 
folk were come up to the stead. Ketil and his 
men knew well the chambers wherein the kings 
were sleeping, and the king let take all those 
chambers, and guarded them, so that no man 
might get away. And thus they waited for light 
of day. The kings had no means of warding them- 
selves, and so were all laid hands on, and led 
before the king. King Roerek was an exceeding 
wise man and hard of heart, and King Olaf deemed 
him untrusty, even though he made somewhat of 
a peace with him. He let blind Roerek of both 
eyes, and had him with him ; but he let shear out 
the tongue of Gudrod the Dale-king ; but of Ring 
and two others he took oath, that they should fare 
away from Norway, nor ever come there again ; 
but of landed-men and bonders, who were proven 
to be of this treason, some he drove out of 
the land, some were maimed, but of some he 
took peace. Of these things telleth Ottar the 
Swart : 

The spoiler of brand of hawk's-field. 
Now hath he given in payment 
Unto the lords of the land here 
Things ugly for their treason. 

LXXIV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 109 

Host-ranker, thou aforetime 
Gavest the kings of Heathmark, 
They who with guile beset thee, 
A guerdon well befitting. 

Fight-thronger, thou hast driven 
The kings beyond the land-mark ; 
Brand-reddener, now thy valour 
Mightier than theirs is proven. 
Lord king, each fled before thee, 
As all men wot ; and sithence 
The word-reed didst thou hopple 
Of him who sat most northward. 

O'er all that land thou rulest 
Which five kings held aforetime, 
And thee the high God strengthens 
With mickle gain, meseemeth. 
Broad kin-lands east to Eid there 
All under thee are lying : 
No Gondul's-fires' be-thronger 
O'er such land sat aforetime. 

King Olaf then laid under him the dominion 
which these five kings had had, and took hostages 
of landed-men and bonders. He took guesting- 
fees from the north, as far as the Dales, and wide 
about Heathmark, and then turned back out to 
Raumrealm, and thence west to Hathaland. 

This winter died Sigurd Sow, his stepfather. 
Then turned King Olaf to Ringrealm, and Asta, 
his mother, arrayed a great banquet for him. And 
now Olaf alone bore a king's name in Norway. 

no The Saga Library. LXXV 


SO it is said, that while King Olaf was at the 
banquet with Asta, his mother, she led 
forth her children, and showed them to 
him. The king set his brothers, on one knee 
Guthorm, and on the other Halfdan. The king 
looked on the lads, and then knit his brows and 
looked wrathfully on them, and both of the lads 
drooped. Then Asta bore to him her youngest 
son, who was hight Harald, who was then three 
winters old. The king frowned on him, but 
he looked straight into his face. Then the 
king caught at the hair of the lad and pulled it, 
and the lad laid hold of the king's beard and pulled 
in return. Then said the king : " Revengeful wilt 
thou be later on, kinsman." 

Next day the king was strolling abroad about 
the stead, and Asta, his mother, with him ; and 
they went to a certain tarn, and there were at play 
the lads, the sons of Asta, Guthorm and Halfdan. 
There were done big homesteads and great barns 
with many neat and sheep : this was their play, to 
wit. A little way thence along the tarn-side, by a 
certain clay-creek, was Harald, and had wood 
shavings, and they floated by the land a-many. 
The king asked him what that meant. He said 
they were his warships. Then laughed the king 
and said: "Maybe, kinsman, that it may come 
about that thou shalt rule over ships." 

Then the king called thither Halfdan and 
Guthorm. And he asked Guthorm : " Whereof 

LXXVI The Story of Olaf the Holy, in 

wouldst thou own the most, kinsman ? " " Corn- 
fields," says he. The king said : "How wide 
wouldst thou have thine acres ? " He answers : 
"That would I, that all this ness which goeth into 
the water were all-sown every summer." But ten 
steads stood there. The king answers : " Mickle 
corn might stand thereon." 

Then the king asked Halfdan what it was that 
he would own most of. " Kine," saith he. The 
king says : " How many kine wouldst thou 
have ? " Halfdan said : " So many that when they 
went to the water they should stand close to each 
other all round it." The king answered : " Big 
store will ye two have, therein taking after your 
fathers." Then the king asked Harald : "Of 
what wiliest thou to own the most .^ " He answers : 
" House-carles," says he. The king asked : " Now, 
how many wilt thou have ? " " That would I, that 
they might eat up at one meal all the kine of 
Halfdan my brother." The king laughed and said 
to Asta : " Here, belike, thou art rearing a king, 
mother ! " No more of their words are told of as 
at that time. 


IN Sweden it was an ancient custom, while 
the land was heathen, that the chief blood- 
offering should be at Upsala in the month of 
Goi ; then should be done blood-offering for peace 
and victory to their king. Thither folk should 
seek from the whole realm of Sweden, and there 

112 The Saga Library. LXXVI 

at the same time withal should be the Thing of 
all the Swedes. A market and a fair was there 
also, which lasted for a week. But when Sweden 
was christened, the Law-Thing and the market 
were holden there none the less. But now, when 
Sweden was all christened, and the kings forbore 
to sit at Upsala, the market was flitted, and held 
at Candlemas, and that has prevailed ever since, 
and now it is held for but three days. There is 
holden the Thing of the Swedes, and thither they 
seek from all parts of the land. 

The Swede-realm lieth in many lots. One lot 
is West Gautland and Wermland and the Marks, 
and all that thereto appertaineth ; and such a wide 
dominion is that, that under the bishop, who is 
thereover there are eleven hundred churches. 
Another lot of the land is East Gautland, where 
there is another bishopric, and therewith goeth 
now Gothland and Isle-land, and altogether this is 
a still wider bishopric. In the Swede-folk itself 
one part is called Southmanland, which is one 
bishopric. Then there is the part hight West- 
manland or Fiadrundland, that is one bishopric. 
Then is that hight Tenthland, the third part of 
Swede-land. Then the fourth is called Eighth- 
land, then the fifth, Sealand, together with what 
thereto appertaineth, lying east away along the 
sea. Tenthland is the best and most nobly 
peopled of Sweden. Thither louteth all the realm. 
Upsala is there, with the king's-seat, and there 
is an archbishop's chair, and thereby is named 
the Wealth of Upsala. So call the Swedes the 
King's wealth, they call it Upsala-wealth. In 

LXXVII Tlie Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 13 

each shire of the land is its own Law-Thing, and 
its own laws in many matters. Over every " law " 
is a lawman, who hath the most to say among the 
bonders, for that shall be law which he ruleth to 
declare. But if king, or earl, or bishops fare over 
the land and hold Thing with the bonders, then 
the lawman answereth on behalf of the bonders, 
and in such way they follow him all, that even men 
of the greatest power scarce dare to come to their 
Althing without the leave of the bonders and 
the lawman. But in all matters where the laws 
sunder, they must all yield to the Upsala-law, and 
all other lawmen shall be under-men of the lawman 
who is of Tenthland. 



THERE was then in Tenthland a lawman 
hight Thorgnyr ; his father is named 
Thorgnyr, son of Thorgnyr. These fore- 
fathers had been lawmen in Tenthland through 
the lives of many kings. Thorgnyr was then an 
old man. He had a great court about him, and he 
was called the wisest man within the realm of 
Sweden. He was a kinsman of Earl Rognvald 
and his fosterfather. 


114 The Saga Library. LXXVIII 


NOW we have to take up the story where- 
as came to Earl Rognvald the men 
whom Ingigerd, the king's daughter, and 
Hialti had sent from the east. They laid their 
errands before Earl Rognvald and his wife Ingi- 
biorg, and said the king's daughter had often 
spoken to the Swede-king about peace between 
him and King Olaf the Thick, and that she was 
the greatest friend of King Olaf; but that the 
Swede-king waxed wroth whensoever she men- 
tioned Olaf, and that she deemed there was no 
hope of peace as matters stood. The earl told 
Biorn what he had heard from the east, and Biorn 
said still the same as before, that he was not 
minded to turn back till he had met the Swede- 
king, and says the earl hath promised him to 
go with him to meet the Swede-king. Now the 
winter weareth on, and forthwith after Yule the 
earl arrayeth his journey, taking with him sixty 
men, and in that journey was Biorn the Marshal 
and his faring-mates. The earl went east all the 
way to Sweden, and when he got further inland, 
he sent his men before him to Upsala and sent 
word to Ingigerd, the king's daughter, that she 
should fare out to Ulleracre to meet him, for there 
she had large manors. But when the words of the 
earl came to the king's daughter, she laid not the 
journey under her head, but got ready to go with 

LXX VI 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 1 5 

many men. Hlalti betook himself to this journey 
with her. But before he went away he went 
before King Olaf and said : "Sit thou hailest 
of all kings ! and sooth it is to say that I have 
never come, where I have seen such glory as 
here with thee, and that word shall I ever here- 
after bear about, wheresoever I may come. I 
will pray this of thee, king, that thou be my 

The king answers: "Why lettest thou on so 
journey-proud ? whither away then ? " Hialti 
answers : " I will ride with Ingigerd, thy daughter, 
out to Ulleracre." 

The king said : " Fare thee well, then ; a wise 
man thou art, and well-mannered art thou, and 
knowest well how to be with noble lords." 

Then went Hialti his ways. But Ingigerd, the 
king's daughter, rode out to her manor of Ulleracre, 
and had there a great feast arrayed for the earl. 
Then the earl came there, and a good welcome he 
had, and tarried there certain nights. He and the 
king's daughter spoke of many things, and most 
about the Kings of Sweden and Norway, and she 
telleth the earl that she deemeth the outlook 
toward peace but hopeless. 

Then said the earl : " How wouldst thou, kins- 
woman, take it, if Olaf, Norway's king, should woo 
thee ? To us it seemeth about the likeliest for 
peace, if such affinity might be brought betwixt 
the two kings ; but I will not follow up that matter, 
if I know that it thwarts thy will." 

She answers : " My father will have the choice 
on my behalf, but of all my other kinsfolk thou 

li6 The Saga Library. LXXIX 

art he whom I would most take for counsel in 
matters whereon I deem that much lieth. But 
how good a rede deemest thou this ? " 

The earl urged her much thereto, and told of 
many things to the fame of King Olaf, such as 
were right glorious. He told her carefully of all 
those haps as had of late befallen : how King 
Olaf in one morning had laid hands on five kings 
and taken from them all their kingship, and laid 
their lands and realms to his own dominion. 
Many things they spoke about this matter, and 
were well agreed on all things between them. 
The earl went away when he was ready, and 
Hialti went with him. 


ROGNVALD the earl came one day at 
eve to the manor of Thorgnyr the Law- 
man. Mickle was that stead and grand. 
Outside there were standing men who gave good 
welcome to the earl, and took into their charge their 
horses and baggage. The earl walked into the 
guest-chamber, and within it there was a great 
multitude of folk. In the high-seat there sat an 
aged man, and never had Biorn, he and his, seen 
so big a man. His beard was so long that it lay 
on his knees and was spread out all over his 
breast ; a goodly man was he, and a noble-looking. 
The earl went up before him and greeted him. 
Thorgnyr welcomes him well, and bade him go 
to the seat wherein he was wont to sit. The 

LXXIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 117 

earl sat down on the other side right over against 

They tarried there for certain nights before the 
earl put forth his errand ; then he prayed that he 
and Thorgnyr should go together to the council- 
chamber. So Biorn and his journey-mates went 
in thither with the earl. Then the earl took up 
the word, and told of that, how Olaf the Norway- 
king had sent his men east thither for the making 
of peace ; long he spoke withal of this, what a 
trouble it was to the West-Gautlanders, that un- 
peace went thence against Norway ; he told withal, 
how Olaf the Norway-king had sent men thither, 
and that now the king's messengers were come 
there, and that he had promised them to go with 
them to meet the Swede-king ; and further he said 
that the Swede-king took the matter so heavily, 
that he set forth, that it should do for no man to 
further that business. 

" Now so it is, fosterfather," says the earl, 
*' that by myself I may not prevail in this matter ; 
and for this cause have I sought to thee, that there 
whereas thou art, I look for wholesome counsel 
and furtherance." 

Now when the earl came to the end of his talk, 
Thorgnyr was silent for a while ; but when he took 
up the word he said : " Wondrously ye shift you 
herein : ye long to take lordly names, yet can ye no 
good rede and forethought, so soon as ye come 
into trouble. Why didst thou not forethink thee 
hereof before thou behightedst this journey, that 
thou hadst no might to speak against King Olaf.'* 
Forsooth I deem it nowise un worshipful to be 

ii8 The Saga Library. LXXX 

amongst the tale of bonders, and be free of my 
words to speak that I will, though the king be by. 
Now I shall come to the Upsala-Thing and give 
thee there such backing that thou mayst speak 
there fearlessly in the face of the king whatever 
liketh thee." 

The earl thanked him well for this promise, and 
he tarried on with Thorgnyr and rode with him to 
the Upsala-Thing. There was a great multitude 
assembled, and there was King Olaf with all his 


THE first day, when the Thing was set, 
King Olaf sat on a chair, and there was 
his body-guard around him. But on the 
other side of the Thing-stead there sat on one 
stool Earl Rognvald and Thorgnyr, and before 
them sat the body-guard of the earl and the 
company of Thorgnyr's house-carles ; but behind 
the stool, and all about the place in a ring, stood 
the throng of the bonders ; and some went on 
to bents and howes that they might hearken 

But when the king's business had been told, 
such to wit as it was the wont to speak out at 
Things, and that matter was ended, then Biorn 
the Marshal stood up beside the stool of the earl 
and spoke aloud : " King Olaf hath sent me hither 
on this errand, that he will bid peace to the King 
of Sweden, and such boundary therewith betwixt 

LXXX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 119 

their lands as of ancient time hath been between 
Norway and Sweden." 

He spake in a high voice, so that the King of 
Sweden heard him clearly. Now when the Swede- 
king first heard King Olaf named, he thought that 
the man would drive through some errand of his ; 
but when he heard spoken of peace and the 
boundaries betwixt Sweden and Norway, then he 
wotted who must needs be at the bottom of the 
matter. So he sprang to his feet and called out 
aloud that that man should hold his peace, saying 
that such things would by no means do. So then 
Biorn sat down. 

But when hearing was got, the earl stood up and 
spoke. He told of the message of Olaf the Thick 
and his bidding of peace to Olaf the Swede-king, 
and therewithal that the West-Gautlanders sent to 
King Olaf all words they might that he should 
make peace with the King of Norway. He told 
forth what trouble it was to West-Gautlanders that 
they must forego all those matters of Norway 
wherein was increase of the year, and on the other 
hand that they must sit in the way of their onsets 
and harrying, if Norway's king should gather an 
host and come with war upon them. The earl 
said further that King Olaf had sent thither men 
with the message that he was minded to woo 
Ingigerd, his daughter. 

When the earl left off speaking stood up Olaf 
the Swede-king. He answers in heavy wise as 
to the peace, and laid on the earl heavy reproaches 
and great, whereas he had dared to make truce and 
peace with the Thick Man, and had made friends 

120 The Saga Library. LXXXI 

with him. He charged him with being a proven 
traitor to him, and said it was meet that Rognvald 
should be driven out of the realm, and that he got 
all this from the egging-on of his wife, Ingibiorg : 
it had been the unwisest of counsels which he had 
taken up at the bidding of such a wife. Long he 
spoke and harshly, and turned his speech against 
Olaf the Thick. But when he sat down, there was 
a hush at first for a while. 


THEN stood up Thorgnyr. And when he 
arose, all the bonders got to their feet 
who had been sitting before ; and all 
rushed forward who had been in other places, and 
would listen to what Thorgnyr had to say. So at 
first there was a great din from the thronging and 
the weapons. But when there was a hearing 
spake Thorgnyr : 

" Another way goeth now the temper of the 
kings of Sweden than the wont was aforetime. 
Thorgnyr, my father's father, remembered Eric, 
the Upsala king, the son of Emund, and told this 
of him, that while he was in his lightest age, he had 
out every summer a gathering, and fared to sundry 
lands, and laid under him Finland and Kirialaland, 
Estland and Kurland, and wide about the East- 
lands ; and even yet may be seen those earth-burgs 
and other great works which he made ; yet was he 
not so haughty as not to give ear to men who had 
due errands to talk over with him. Thorgnyr, my 

LXXXI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 121 

father, was with King Biorn for a long while : well 
he knew his ways. Throughout the lifetime of 
Biorn his realm stood with mickle might and 
nought of waning ; and he, withal, was mild to his 

" I myself may remember King Eric the Vic- 
torious, and was with him in many a war-faring. 
The realm of the Swedes he eked, and warded it 
hardily, and it was good for us to bring our matters 
before him. 

" But this king, who is now, lets no man be so 
bold as to speak to him but that alone which he 
is pleased to allow ; for this he striveth with all 
his might, but letteth his scat-lands go from him 
from lack of diligence and doughtiness. He 
hankers after this, to hold the realm of Norway 
under him, but no Swede-king has set his heart 
upon this thing aforetime, and it worketh unrest to 
many a man. Now that will we bonders, that 
thou, King Olaf, make peace with Olaf the Thick, 
Norway's king, and give him thy daughter Ingi- 
gerd. And if thou wilt win again for thyself those 
realms in the East-ways which thy kinsmen and 
forefathers have had there, then will all we follow 
thee to that end. But if thou wilt not have that 
which we set forth, then shall we make an onset 
on thee and slay thee, and not suffer of thee any 
unpeace or lawlessness. Even so did our fore- 
fathers of old time, who at the Muli-Thing steeped 
five kings into one ditch, such as aforetime had 
been fulfilled of pride towards them, even as thou to 
us. Now, say speedily, which choice thou wilt take." 

Therewith the throng of folk made forthwith 

122 The Saga Library. LXXXI 

mickle clash of weapons and din. But the king 
stood up and spake, and said that he will let all be 
even as the bonders will it ; says he, that even so 
had done all Swedish kings heretofore, to let the 
bonder's rule with them in all matters whereon 
they had will to do. Thereat the murmur of the 
bonders was stayed. 

Then spoke together the heads of the people, 
the king, the earl, and Thorgnyr, and made peace 
and covenant at the hand of the Swede-king, even 
according to the words which Norway's king had 
already sent to that end. At this Thing it was settled 
that Ingigerd, the daughter of King Olaf, should 
be given in wedlock to King Olaf Haraldson. 
The king gave her plighted troth into the hand 
of the earl and handselled to him all his bidding 
over this betrothal ; and they parted there at the 
Thing with matters thus ended. But when the 
earl fared home, he and Ingigerd met, and spoke 
together on the affair. She sent to King Olaf a 
cloak of pall, much gold-embroidered, and silken 

So the earl went back to Gautland and Biorn 
with him. Biorn tarried there a little while, and 
then fared back to Norway together with his 
journey-mates ; and when he met King Olaf and 
told him the end of his errand, even as it was, the 
king thanked him well for his journey, and said, as 
was true,* that good luck had stood Biorn in stead, 
whereas he had brought through his errand 
amidst this unpeace. 

LXXXII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 123 


WHEN spring came, King Olaf went 
down to the sea and let dight his 
ships, and called out folk to him ; and 
that spring he fared down the Wick all the way 
westward to Lidandisness, and thence he fared all 
the way north to Hordland. Then he sent word 
to the landed-men, and named all the mightiest 
men from the countrysides, and arrayed this journey 
at the stateliest, whereas he went to meet his troth- 
plight. The wedding-feast was to be in autumin, 
east on the Elf, by the boundary of the realms. 

Now King Olaf had with him King Rcerek the 
blind. And when his hurts were healed up. King 
Olaf gave him two men to serve him, and let him 
sit in the high-seat beside himself, and kept him in 
drink and raiment, in no worse wise therein than 
he had aforetime kept himself. Roerek was few- 
spoken, and answered in a manner stiff and short 
when people spoke to him. It was his wont to 
let his foot-swain lead him abroad a-days, and 
away from other men ; then would he beat the 
boy, and when he ran away from him he would 
tell King Olaf that the boy would not serve him. 
Then King Olaf changed his serving-men for him, 
but all went as before, that no serving-man could 
hold it out with King Roerek. Then King Olaf 
got for the following and guarding of King Roerek 
one Svein, a kinsman of King Roerek, who had 
been his man before. Still Roerek held to his 
wont as to his cross-grained ways and lone walks. 

124 The Saga Library , LXXXII 

But when he and Svein were alone together, 
Roerek grew merry and full of talk ; he called to 
mind then many things that had happened afore- 
time, and such withal as had befallen in his life- 
days, when he was king ; he would bring to 
memory his former life, and also who he was who 
had changed it, with his rule and his bliss, and 
made of him but a bedesman. "And yet this I 
deem my hardest lot of all," says he, " that thou, or 
any other kinsman of mine, in whom there were 
the makings of a man, should now be such out- 
casts of their stock as to take revenge for no 
shame at all of those done to our race." 

Suchlike wailings oft had he uppermost. 

But Svein answers and says that they had to 
deal with men mighty beyond measure, and they had 
as then but litde might. Spake Roerek : " Why 
should I live long amidst shame and crippling, but 
that it might perchance so befall that, blind as I am, 
I should overcome him who overcame me in my 
sleep. So may we happily slay Olaf the Thick, 
now that he feareth nothing for himself. I shall 
lay down rede thereto, nor would I spare my 
hands for the deed, if I could but use them ; 
the which, however, I may not do by reason 
of my blindness, and therefore thou shalt bear 
weapons on him ; and forthwith, when Olaf is 
slain, I know by the soothsaying that is in me, 
that the realm returneth under the sway of his 
unfriends. Now maybe that I shall be king, and 
then thou shalt be my earl." 

And so his word prevailed that Svein said yea 
to carrying out this folly. 

LXXXII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 125 

Now this was how the plot was laid. When 
the king got ready to go to evensong, Svein stood 
without in the porch, and had a drawn short-sword 
under his cloak. But when the king came out of 
the chamber, then was he speedier than Svein had 
looked for, and he saw the face of the king ; then 
he paled, and waxed as wan as a corpse, and his 
hands fell down. The king noted fear on him, 
and said : " What now, Svein ! art thou minded 
to bewray me } " Svein cast away the cloak from 
him, and the sword withal, and fell at the feet of 
the king, and said : " All in God's power, and in 
thine, king ! " The king bade his men take Svein, 
and he was set in irons. Then the king let show 
Roerek to a seat on the lower bench ; but he gave 
peace to Svein, and he fared away out of the land. 
Then the king gave to Roerek another chamber 
to sleep in than that wherein he slept himself; 
in that chamber many of the guard slept ; he 
gat two men of the body-guard to tend on 
Roerek night and day. These men had long been 
with King Olaf, and he had tried their trustiness 
unto him ; though it be not told of that they were 
men of great kin. 

Now King Roerek did so, turn and turn about, 
that whiles he held his peace for many days, so 
that no man could get a word out of him, and 
whiles he was so merry and glad, that they deemed 
it good game of every word he said ; but whiles 
again he said but little, and nought but ill. So 
was it withal, that whiles he would drink every man 
off his settle, and made all them good for naught 
who sat nearest to him ; but oftenest he drank but 

126 The Saga L ibrary. LX X X 1 1 1 

little. King Olaf gave him pocket-money in 
plenty ; and oft would he do thus, that he would 
come to his chamber before going to bed, and let 
bear in sundry casks of mead, and gave to drink 
to all the lads of the sleeping-chamber ; whereof 
was he well-beloved of them. 


THERE was a man called Finn the Little, 
of Upland blood, but, as some would have 
it, a Finn of kindred ; he was of all men the 
smallest and the swiftest of foot, so that no horse 
might overtake him running. Of all men was he 
best skilled on snow-shoes and at the bow. He 
had been a long while a serving-man of King 
Roerek, and had oft gone such errands of his as 
were affairs of trust. He knew the ways all 
about the Uplands, and all great men there he 
knew to talk to. But when King Roerek was 
taken captive, Finn threw himself in with their 
following, going mostly in company with the 
knaves and the serving-men ; but whenever he 
might bring it about, he came to do service to 
King Roerek, and many a time he got to talk to 
him ; but the king would speak with him but for 
a short while at a stretch, as he desired not that 
their talk should be misdoubted. But as the 
spring wore, and they fared down into the Wick, 
Finn vanished away from the host certain days, 
and then came back again and tarried a while. 
Thus fared he often, and therefore no heed was 

LXXXI V The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 27 

given to it, for there were many runagates with the 


KING OLAF came to Tunsberg before 
Easter, and tarried there a long while of 
spring. There came to the town at that 
time many ships of chapmen, both Saxons and 
Danes, and folk from the Eastern Wick, and from 
the North-country, so that there was a right mickle 
throng. The season was abundant and drinkings 
mickle. On an eve as it befell, King Roerek was 
come to his chamber somewhat late, and had 
drunk much, and was then very merry. Then 
came thereto Finn the Little with a mead-cask 
full of spiced mead of the strongest. This the 
king let give to drink to all within, until each fell 
asleep in his seat. Then was Finn gone away, 
but light burned in the chamber. Then the king 
waked up the men who were wont to follow him, 
saying that he wanted to go into the yard. They 
had a lantern with them, for it was pitch-dark 
abroad. In the yard there was a large privy 
standing on posts, and one had to get up to the 
door by steps. Now while Roerek and his men 
sat in the yard they heard how a man said, " Cut 
the devil down ! " And then they heard a crash 
and a thump, as of something falling. King Roerek 
said : " They will be full drunken who are thus 
dealing together ; go ye thereto and part them." 
They bestirred them speedily and ran out; but 

128 The Saga Library. LXXXIV 

when they came forth unto the steps he was first 
cut down who went last, yet both were slain. 
There were come the men of King Roerek, Sigurd 
Scrip, who had been his banner-bearer, he and his, 
fifteen together; and Finn the Little was there 
also. They dragged the corpses up between the 
houses, and took the king, and had him away with 
them, and leapt into a cutter which they had there, 
and rowed away. 

Now Sigvat the Skald slept in the chamber of 
King Olaf, and he stood up in the night and a 
foot-swain with him, and went to the great privy • 
but when they were coming back, and were going 
down the steps, Sigvat slipped and fell on his 
knee, and thrust down his hand, and it was wet 
thereunder. "I deem," says he, "that the king 
has gotten for many of us the tub-ship's foot to- 
night," and laughed withal. But when they came 
to the chamber, where light was burning, the foot- 
swain asked : " Hast thou hurt thyself, or why art 
thou all over blood .'* " He answered : " I am not 
hurt, but this must betoken tidings." He then 
called up Thord, son of Foli, the banner-bearer, 
his bed-fellow, and they went out, and had a lantern 
with them, and soon found the blood ; then sought 
they, and speedily found the corpses, and knew 
who they were. They look out and saw that there 
lay a big tree-butt, and therein great gashes, and 
it was known sithence that this had been done by 
way of a feint, in order to draw them out who 
were slain. 

Sigvat and his mates spake between them that 
it was needful that the king should know these 

LXXXI V The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 29 

tidings as speedily as might be. They sent the 
swain forthwith to the chamber wherein Kinor 
Roerek had been. There all men were asleep, 
but the king was away. The swain wakened them 
who were therewithin and told them the tidino-s : 
and men stood up and fared forthwith into the 
yard whereas the dead bodies were. Now though 
it was deemed needful that the king should 
know of these things as soon as might be, yet 
none durst waken him. Then said Sigvat to Thord : 
"Which wilt thou rather, bedfellow, wake the 
king or tell him the tidings .'*" Thord answers: 
" On no account do I dare to waken him, but I 
will tell him the tidings." Then spoke Sigvat : 
"Mickle is left of the night yet, and it may be, 
ere day dawns, that King Roerek will have gotten 
him such a hiding-place that thereafter he be not 
easily found ; but as yet they must have got but 
a short way off, for the bodies were yet warm. 
Never shall such a shame overtake us as not to 
let the king know of this treason. Go thou, Thord, 
up into the chamber and await me there." 

Then went Sigvat to the church and called up 
the bell-ringer, and bade him ring for the souls of 
the king's guards, naming by name the men who 
had been slain. The bell-ringer did what he 
bade him ; but the king was waked by the ringing, 
and sat up. He asked whether it was already time 
for matins. Thord answers : " It is a worse matter 
than that. Great tidings have befallen : King 
Roerek has vanished away, and two of thy body- 
guard are slain." 

Then asked the king after the haps there, and 

IV. K 

130 The Saga Library. LXXXIV 

Thord told him thereof such as he knew. Then 
stood the king up and let blow a gathering for the 
guard ; and when the company gat together, the 
king named men for the faring out all ways from 
the town to seek Roerek by sea and land. 

Now Thorir the Long took a cutter and went 
with thirty men, and when daylight broke, they 
see two small cutters fare before them. 

But when they saw each other, either side rowed 
at their mightiest. There was King Roerek with 
a company of thirty men ; and as they drew closer 
to each other, Roerek and his men turned towards 
shore, and there they all leapt aland, saving the 
king, who sat down in the poop. He spake and 
bade them fare well and meet hale. 

Then Thorir and his folk rowed into the shore, 
and therewith Finn the Little shot an arrow, which 
came on the midmost of Thorir, and gat him his 
bane ; but Sigurd and his men all ran away into 
the wood. 

The men of Thorir took his dead body and 
King Roerek withal, and brought them down to 

King Olaf himself took in hand the guarding of 
King Roerek, and he had him carefully watched, 
and paid great heed to his wiles, and got men to 
ward him day and night. King Roerek was then 
of the merriest, and no man could find in him 
that he did not like all these things as well as 
might be. 

LXXXV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 131 


IT befell on Ascension day that King Olaf 
went to high mass. Thereat the bishop went 
in procession round the church leading the 
king ; but when they came back into the church, 
the bishop led the king to his seat in the north 
side of the choir, and there sat hard by King 
Roerek as he was wont; he had his cloak-hood 
over his face. But when King Olaf had sat down, 
King Roerek laid his hand on his shoulder and felt 
him about, and said : " Precious raiment hast thou 
now, kinsman," says he. King Olaf answers: 
*' Now is a great high-tide holden in memory of 
this, that Jesus Christ stied up to heaven from 

King Roerek answers: "This I do not under- 
stand, so as it be fast in my mind, what ye tell of 
Christ ; for much of what ye say seemeth to me 
somewhat past belief, yet many wonders have 
befallen of old." 

But when the mass was uphoven, then King 
Olaf stood up and held his hands over his head 
and bowed towards the altar, and his cloak fell 
down off his shoulders. Then King Roerek 
sprang to his feet swift and hard, and thrust at 
King Olaf a sax-knife which is called "rytning ; " 
the thrust came on the cloak by the shoulders, 
but the king was bent down, so that the clothes 
were much sheared but the king was nought 
wounded. But when King Olaf found himself thus 
set on, he leapt forth on to the floor. King Roerek 

132 The Saga Library. LXXXV 

thrust at him a second time with the sax and 
missed him, and said : " Fleest thou now, Thick 
Olaf, before me, the blind ? " 

The king bade his men lay hands on him and 
lead him out of the church, and so it was done. 

After these things King Olaf's men urged him 
to let slay King Roerek ; " For it is," said they, 
" the greatest trial of thy luck, king, to have him 
with thee, and to spare him, whatsoever outrage he 
taketh to ; for he watcheth thereover night and 
day, to take away thy life. But so soon as thou 
sendest him away from thee, we see not any man 
who may guard him that there be no likelihood of 
his getting away ; but if he get loose, he will 
forthwith have up an host and do many evil 

The king answers : "It Is rightly spoken, that 
many a man hath taken his death for less deeds 
than Roerek's ; but I am loth to mar the victory 
which I won over the kings of the Uplanders, 
when I took those live in one morning, and got 
all their dominions, in such wise that I needed 
not be their banesman, whereas they were all my 
kinsmen. Yet now I scarce may see, whether 
Roerek may or may not yet drive me into a corner 
to let slay him." 

Now the cause why Rcerek had put his hand 
upon the shoulder of King Olaf was, that he 
would wot whether he was in byrny. 

LXXXVI The Story of Olaf the Holy, 133 


THERE was a man named Thorarin, son of 
Nefiolf, a man of Iceland, and of North- 
land kin, not of high degree, but of all 
men the wisest and the sagest of word ; outspoken 
in the face of lords ; a great seafarer, and was 
long in the outlands. Thorarin was the most ill- 
favoured of men, and that mostly for the ill 
fashion of his limbs ; his hands were big and un- 
shapely, and yet were his feet more unshapely by 

Thorarin happened to be staying at Tunsberg, 
when those tidinors befell which are aforesaid ; he 
knew King Olaf to talk to. 

Thorarin was then dighting a cheaping-ship of 
his own, being minded for Iceland in the summer. 
King Olaf had Thorarin for guest for some days, 
and talked over many things with him, and 
Thorarin slept in the king's chamber. Now one 
morning early the king lay awake, but the other 
men in the chamber were asleep ; the sun^ was 
risen but little, but it was full daylight within. 
Then saw the king how Thorarin had stretched 
one of his feet out from under the bed-clothes ; he 
looked on the foot awhile, till the men in the 
chamber awoke. Then spoke the king to 
Thorarin : "I have been now awake for awhile, 
and I have seen a sight by which I set a great 
store, and that is a man's foot so fashioned that 
none, methinks, shall be uglier here in this town." 

And he bade other men look thereat whether it 

134 The Saga Library. LXXXVI 

seemed so to them ; and all who looked said it 
was true that so it was. 

Thorarin found what was being talked of, and 
answers : " There be few things so utterly odd, 
that no likelihood there be of meeting another 
such-like ; and it is likeliest that even so it shall 
be now." 

The king said : " None the less will I hold to 
it that a foot so ugly shall not be found, yea even 
though I have to lay a wager on it." 

Spoke Thorarin : " I am ready to wager thee 
hereon, that 1 shall find an uglier foot in the 

The king says : " Then shall he of us twain, 
who holdeth the truest, choose a boon of the other." 
" So it be," says Thorarin. 

Then he stretched from under the clothes the 
other foot, and no whit fairer was that to look 
upon, and the little toe was off it, to boot. Then 
spoke Thorarin : " Look here now, king, here is 
another foot, and it is by so much the uglier than 
the other that here is one of the toes off. So I 
have won the wager." 

The king answers : " This other foot is by so 
much the unfairer, that there are on that five 
frightful toes, but on this one but four ; so it is 
mine to beg the boon of thee." Thorarin said : 
"Worshipful is the Lord's word! What is the 
boon thou wilt take at my hands ? " 

He answereth : " This, that thou flit King 
Roerek to Greenland, and bring him to Leif, the 
son of Eric." Thorarin answered : " Never have 
I been in Greenland." The king says : " For 

LXXXVI The Story of Olaf the Holy, 135 

such a seafarer as thou art, it is now high time to 
fare to Greenland, if thou hast not come thither 

At lirst Thorarin had but Httle to say as to this 
matter. But as the king held to his urging of the 
matter, Thorarin did not altogether thrust it away 
from him, but spake thus : '* I shall let thee hear, 
king, the boon it was in my mind to bid of thee, 
if I had won the wager ; this, to wit, that I would 
have bid thee of service in thy guard. Now if 
thou grant me that, then were I the more bound 
not to lay under my head that which thou 
wiliest crave of me." The king yeasaid this, 
and Thorarin became of his body-guard. Then 
Thorarin dight his ship, and when he was ready 
he took to him King Roerek. But when they were 
parting, Thorarin and King Olaf, Thorarin spake : 
" Now it may so befall, king, as is not unlike, and 
often Cometh to pass, that I may not carry out the 
Greenland journey, but may be carried on to Ice- 
land or some other of lands ; how then shall I 
part with this king in such wise as shall like 
thee ? " 

The king says : " If thou come to Iceland, then 
hand him over to Gudmund, son of Eyolf, or to 
Skapti the Speaker-at-law, or to some other of 
the chiefs, such as will take him, with my friend- 
ship, and the tokens thereof But if thou shouldst 
be borne on to other lainds, of such as be nigher 
hereto, see thou so to it, that thou wot surely that 
Roerek come never again to Norway; but do 
thou this only if thou mayst do nothing else." 
Now when Thorarin was ready, and the wind 

136 The Saga Library. LXXXVI 

was fair, he sailed all along the outer way, without 
the isles, and north beyond Lidandisness he put off 
into the main sea. He gat not a wind speedily, 
but he was most heedful not to make land. He 
sailed south of Iceland, and had an inkling thereof, 
and so west of the land into the Greenland main. 
There he got great gales and heavy seas, and as 
the summer was wearing he made Iceland in 
Broadfirth. Thorgils Arison was the first man of 
worship there to come to them. Thorarin telleth 
him the message of King Olaf, the bidding of 
friendship, and the tokens that went with the 
taking of King Roerek. Thorgils took the 
matter well, and bade King Roerek come to him, 
and for that winter he tarried with Thorgils 
Arison. But he was ill content there, and bade 
Thorgils let bring him to Gudmund ; and he says 
that he deemed he had heard that at Gudmund's 
there was the greatest stateliness in Iceland, and 
to him he had been sent. Thorgils did as he 
bade, and got men to bring him to Gudmund of 
Madderwalls. Gudmund gave Roerek a good 
welcome for the sake of the kings message, and 
he was with Gudmund another winter. There- 
after he was ill content there ; so Gudmund got 
him an abiding-place at a little stead hight Calf- 
skin, where were but few serving-folk, and there 
Roerek dwelt the third winter ; and he would say 
that, since the time he had left kingship, there 
was the place was most to his mind, for there he 
was held of all of the most worship. But the 
next summer Roerek got the illness which brought 
him to his bane. So it is said, he is the only king 

LXXXVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 137 

that rests in Iceland. Thorarin, son of Nefiolf, 
long sithence held him a-seafaring, but was whiles 
with Kinof Olaf. 


THE same summer that Thorarin fared 
with Roerek to Iceland, Hialti Skeggi- 
son went out to Iceland, and at their 
parting King Olaf saw him off with friendly gifts. 
That same summer Eyvind Urochs-horn went 
into the West viking, and came in the autumn to 
Ireland to Konofogor the Erse-king. In the 
autumn the King of the Irish and Einar, the Earl 
of Orkney, met in Ulfreksfirth, and there was a 
great batde. King Konofogor had by far the 
bigger host, and got the victory ; but Earl Einar 
fled in one ship, and came back in autumn to 
Orkney in such a plight that he had lost well- 
nigh all his host and all the plunder that they 
had gotten afore ; and exceeding ill content was 
the earl with his journey, and laid his defeat on 
the Northmen who had been in the batde with the 
Irish king. 


NOW the story is to be taken up where 
afore it was turned from, that King 
Olaf the Thick fared his bridal journey 
to seek his betrothed, Ingigerd, the daughter of 

138 The Saga Library. LXXXVIII 

Olaf the Swede-kinof. The kingf had a o^reat com- 
pany with him, and so picked it was, that in his 
following were all the great men he could get hold 
of; and every one of the mightier men had with 
him a chosen band, both as to kindred, and withal 
the goodliest that might be. Arrayed was the host 
with the best of goods, both of ships, and weapons, 
and raiment. The host held east to King's Rock. 
But when they came there, they got no news of 
the Swede-king, nor were any folk come there on 
his behalf. King Olaf tarried for a long while 
that summer at King's Rock, and set him much to 
asking, what men had to tell him of the goings of 
the Swede-king, and the mind of him ; but no one 
knew aught for certain to tell him thereof. Then 
he sent his men up into Gautland to Earl Rognvald, 
to ask of him if he knew what might have brought 
it about that the Swede-king came not to the 
meeting according to what had been settled afore. 
The earl said he knew it not : " but if I get to know 
it," says he, "then shall I send my men to King 
Olaf, and let him know what is amiss ; whether 
this delay is from any other sake than from the 
much business which oft brings about delay of the 
journeys of the Swede-king beyond what he him- 
self may reckon." 

LXXXIX The Story of Olaf the Holy . 139 


OLAF the Swede-king had first a con- 
cubine hight Edla, daughter of an earl 
in Wendland ; she had been taken cap- 
tive, and therefore was she called the king's bond- 
maiden. Their children were Emund, Astrid, 
Holmfrid. Again he begat on his queen a son, who 
was born on the wake-day of James, and when the 
boy was to be baptized, the bishop gave him the 
name of James. This name the Swedes liked ill, 
and they cried out that never a Swede-king had 
hight James. All King Olafs children were 
goodly to look upon, and well furnished with wits. 
The queen was masterful of mood, and not kind to 
her step-children. The king sent Emund, his son, 
to Wendland, where he was brought up among 
his mother's kindred ; nor did he keep to Christ's 
faith for a long while. Astrid, the king's daughter, 
was brought up in West Gautland at a noble lord's, 
who hight Egill ; she was the fairest of women 
and the most deftly spoken, glad of talk and 
humble-minded, and open-handed withal. But 
when she was of ripe age she would often be with 
her father, and was well looked to of every man. 

King Olaf was of masterful mind, and unmild 
of speech. It liked him exceeding ill that the folk 
of the land had made throng on him at the Upsala 
Thing and threatened him mishandling, and that 
he laid chiefly on Earl Rognvald. No bridal 
journey did he cause to be arrayed according to 
what had been settled the winter before, to wit. 

140 The Saga Library. XC 

that he should give his daughter Ingigerd to Olaf 
the Thick, King of Norway, and fare this tide of 
summer to the marches of the lands. 

Now as the summer wore, many folk grew right 
wistful to know what mind the king might have, 
or whether he would keep his covenant with the 
K ing of N or way or was minded to tear up the settle- 
ment and the peace withal. Many were mind-sick 
hereover; but none was so bold as to question 
him concerning it by word of mouth, though many 
bewailed hereof to Ingigerd, the king's daughter, 
and bade her get to wot what the king would. 
She answers : " Unwilling am I to have converse 
with the king, and talk with him on his dealings 
with Olaf the Thick, for therein neither is the 
other's friend ; and one time he answered me ill, 
when I put forth the cause of Olaf the Thick." 
For Ingigerd, the king's daughter, this matter gat 
much forthlnking, and she was sick at heart and 
unmerry ; and full wistful she was as to what the 
king would take up. But she misdoubted rather 
that he would not keep his word to the King of 
Norway, for that was found of him, that ever he 
grew wroth when Olaf the Thick was called a 


BEFELL it early on a day that the king rode 
abroad with his hawks and hounds, and 
his men with him. But when they flew 
the hawks, the king's hawk slew in one swoop two 

XC The Story of Olaf the Holy. 141 

heath-cocks ; and forthwith he made another swoop, 
and then slew three heath-cocks. The hounds ran 
beneath it so as to catch up every fowl that fell to 
earth. The king gallopped after them, and took 
his own catch to him, and boasted much thereof, 
saying : " Long will ye have to wait, most of you, 
before ye make such a catch." They said that true 
it was, and that they were minded to think that no 
king would bear about such good luck in hunting. 
Thereupon the king rode home, and all they 
together, and was in a right merry mood. In- 
gigerd, the king's daughter, was as then coming 
out of her chamber, as it happed, and when she 
saw the king come riding into the court, she 
turned round his way, and greeted him. He 
greeted her, and laughed, and straightway he held 
forth the fowl to her, and tells her of his hunting, 
and said : " Where knowest thou of a king who 
hath got so mickle a catch in so little while ? " 
She answers : " A good morning's catch is this, 
lord, that ye have gotten five heath-cocks ; but 
greater was that when Olaf, Norway's king, in one 
morning caught five kings, and took to him all 
their dominions." 

Now when he heard this, he leapt from his 
horse, and turned about, and said : " Know this, 
Ingigerd, that for all the great love thou hast 
bestowed on that Thick Man, thou shalt never 
enjoy him, nor either of you the other. For I shall 
wed thee to such a lord as I shall deign to have 
friendship withal ; but never can I be friends with 
a man who has taken my realm as war-gettings, 
and done to me manifold harm in robberies and 

142 The Saga Library. XCI 

manslaylngs. Therewith they sundered, and went 
each their own way. 


NOW Ingigerd, the king's daughter, had 
come to know all the truth about the 
mind of King Olaf, and sent forthwith 
men down to West Gautland to Roo^nvald the 
earl, and let tell him the news of the Swede-king, 
that all the covenant with the King of Norway 
was broken ; and bade the earl and other West 
Gautlanders to beware, for peace at the hands 
of the men of Norway would now be unsure. 
And when the earl heard these tidings, he sends 
word throughout all his dominion, biddino^ the 
people beware, lest the men of Norway should be 
minded to make war on them. The earl also sent 
messengers to King Olaf the Thick, and let tell 
him the words he had heard, and this withal, that 
he will have peace and friendship with King Olaf; 
and he prayed this thereto that the king should 
forbear harrying his dominion. Now when this 
message came to King Olaf he was very wroth 
and sick at heart, and it was for some days, that 
no man gat a word of him. 

Thereafter he held a House-thing with his 
host ; and first of all stood up Biorn the Marshal, 
and first began his speech, how he had fared 
east for peace-making in the winter ; he says 
how Earl Rognvald had given him a goodly wel- 
come, and how thwartly and heavily the Swede- 

XCI The story of Olaf the Holy. 143 

kinof had taken these matters at first. " But the 

covenant that was made," he said, *' was brought 

about rather by the might of the many, and 

through the power of Thorgnyr and the avail of 

Earl Rognvald, than by the goodwill of the 

Swede-kine ; for this cause we deem that we wot 

that it is the king who has brought it about that 

the covenant is broken, and that it is not to be laid 

on the earl soothly, for we found him to be a true 

friend of King Olaf." Now the king will know of 

his captains and other folk, what rede he shall 

take, whether he shall go up into Gautland and 

harry there " with such host as we now have, or 

whether it seem good to you to take up another 

rede." He spake long and deftly. Thereupon 

many of the great men had their say, and it came 

much to one point at last, that all letted war. And 

thus said they : "Though we have a great host, 

3'et here are gathered together mighty men and 

noble ; but for warfare are no less meet young men 

who deem it good to gain for them wealth and 

honours. Moreover, it is the manner of mighty 

men, if they fare into war or battle, that they have 

with them many men to go before them and to 

shield them ; but oft it happens that men of little 

wealth fight no worse than those who are brought 

up wealthy." 

Now from their talk hereover the king made up 
his mind to break up the muster, and he gave each 
one leave to fare back home ; but he gave it out 
that next summer he should have out the folk 
from all the land, and go meet the Swede-king 
and avencfe him of this fickleness. This was well 


144 The Saga Library. XCII 

liking to all. So King Olaf went again north into the 
Wick, and in the autumn took up his seat in Burg, 
and let draw thither all goods that he needed for 
his winter-quarters ; and there he sat with a great 
throng through the winter. 


FOLK spake very diversely about Earl 
Rognvald. Some would have it that he 
was a true friend of King Olaf, while to 
some that seemed untrustworthy, for they said he 
might well have prevailed with the Swede-king 
that he should hold the word and covenant betwixt 
him and King Olaf the Thick. 

Now Sigvat the Skald was a great friend of 
Earl Rognvald in all he said about him, and on 
that matter he would often be talking before King 
Olaf. He offered the king to go to see Earl 
Rognvald, and to spy what he might learn about 
the Swede-king, and to try if he might bring about 
peace in any way. This the king liked well, for 
he deemed it good to talk oft concerning Ingigerd, 
the king's daughter, to his trusty men. Early in 
the winter Skald Sigvat, he and his, three together, 
fared from Burg east over the Marklands, and so 
to Gautland. But before they parted, King Olaf 
and Sigvat, he sang this stave : 

Now sit thou hail, King Olaf, 
Until again we twain meet 
And have our talk together, 
And I come thine hall to look on. 

XCII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 145 

The skald meanwhile thus prayeth, 
That the stem of the drift of war-helm 
Hold life, and withal the land here. 
Life to thy fame ! Thus end I. 

king, the words are spoken 
Which most of every matter 
To us were heedful ; nathless 
Of more things have we cunning. 
Heart-hardy king, may God now 
Do thee to keep thy land whole, 
For thou wert born thereunto. 
This do I will full surely. 

Then they went east to Eid and gat an ill ferry 
over the river, an oak dug-out to wit, and came 
hardly over the water. Sigvat sang a ditty : 

Wet let I drag the crank tub 

To Eid, and feared I sorely 

The coming-back ; so drave we 

Toward folly in that shipping. 

May the howes'-host take the fool-ship ; 

Ne'er saw I worser. Let I 

Risk all on yonder sea-ram ; 

All was better than I looked for. 

Thereafter they went through Eid-wood, and 
Sigvat sang a stave : 

Nought longed I for the running 
Twelve miles and one through wild-wood 
From Eid ; and well man wotteth 
That hurts enow I had there. 
Yet thither, as meseemeth, 

1 went that day full keenly, 

Though on both feet of the king's men 
In flakes the sores were falling. 

Thereupon they went through Gautland, and 
came at eve of a day to the stead hight Hof ; the 

IV, L 

1 46 The Saga L ibrary. X C 1 1 

door was fast and they might not get in ; the 
serving-man said that there was it hallowed, and 
so they turned away thence. Sigvat sang : 

For Hof I made unslothful. 
The door was locked, I louted, 
' And thrust in nose, and speered I 

Of matters from without-ward. 
Few words gat I of folk there ; 
The heathen lads thence thrust me. 
For holy-tide they called it. 
And I bade the trolls to take them. 

Then he came to another stead, where the 
housewife stood in the door, and bade him not 
come inside there, for Elf- worship was toward. 
Sigvat sang : 

" O wretch," cried out the woman, 
" No further in, for I fear me 
To win the wrath of Odin ; 
Here be we heathen people." 
The hideous hag, O folk-friend. 
Me as a wolf drave outward. 
She said that now Elf-offering 
Was toward within her homestead. 

Next evening he came to three bonders, each 
of whom hight Olver, and they all drove him out. 
Sigvat sang : 

Now drave me out three name-sakes : 
Those fir-trees of the hone-bed, 
Who turned their head-backs on me. 
Honour themselves in nowise. 
But this I fear that henceforth 
Each loader of the sea-skate 
Who hath the name of Olver 
Will most of all drive guests out. 

XCII TheStoryofOlaftheHoly. 147 

So they fared on still that same evening, and 
happened on a fourth bonder, who was accounted 
of as the best thane of them all. But out he drave 
Sigvat also, and Sigvat sang : 

Then fared I next to find him, 

That breaker of waves'-glitter. 

Whom all the folk were calling 

The friendliest ; peace I hoped there. 

He the hoe's-heeder surly 

Heeded me little : bad then 

Is worst, if this the best is. 

The folks' blame here I bear forth. 

Of kindly quarters lacked I 
On the way to the east of Eid-wood, 
When I asked the churl unchristened 
To give me nought but guesting. 
The son of mighty Saxi 
Nought found I : in one evening 
Four times they bade me outward ; 
Nought fair abode within there. 

But when they came to Earl Rognvald, the 
earl says that they had had a toilsome journey. 
Sigvat sang : 

The sent-men of the chieftain 

Of the Sogn-folk, they who sought forth 

Their ways with the kings' own errands^ 

On hand had mickle faring. 

Great outfit need men ganging. 

But few of things were grudged us. 

The worthy Norway's warder 

So ruled, when he went northward. 

Hard going 'twas through Eidshaw 
For the men on the East-ways wending 
To the thruster down of king-folk. 
The king's praise make I greater. 

148 The Saga Library. XCII 

Nought due was my out-thrusting 
By the Earl's groves of the fire-flame 
Of the field of the deer of rollers, 
Ere I gat me to my good lord. 

Earl Rognvald gave Sigvat a golden ring. One 
of the women said he had come his ways to some 
purpose with those dark eyes of his. Sigvat 
sang : 

Yea, these swart eyes of Iceland, 
O woman, surely showed us 
The steep way wending longsome 
Unto the ring, the bright one. 
Mead-Nanna ! this my foot here 
Full bravely hath been ganging 
Over the ways of old time, 
Whereof thy man nought knoweth. 

Sigvat the Skald was in good cheer with the 
earl for a long while. Then he learnt this from 
writ-sendings of Ingigerd,the king's daughter, that 
messengers from King Jarisleif from Holmgarth 
in the Eastlands had come to Olaf the Swede-king 
to woo Ingigerd his daughter on behoof of King 
Jarisleif, and this moreover, that King Olaf took 
it up as a matter most likely. Therewithal came 
to the court of the earl, Astrid, the daughter of 
King Olaf, and thereon a great banquet was 
arrayed. Now Sigvat soon got to know the 
king's daughter to talk to, and she called to mind 
who he was and of what kin, whereas Ottar the 
Skald, the sister's son of Sigvat, had been for a 
long while in good liking with Olaf the Swede- 
king. Now many things were talked over, and 
Earl Rognvald asked Sigvat if Olaf, Norway's 
king, would have Astrid, the king's daughter, to 

XCII Tlie story of Olaf the Holy. 149 

wife: "And if he has a will thereto," says he, "then 
I ween we shall not ask the King of Sweden about 
that wooing." 

Astrid, the king's daughter, said the same thing. 

Thereafter Sigvat and his turned back home, 
and came a little before Yule to Burg, and met 
King Olaf But when Sigvat came home to King 
Olaf, and went into the hall and looked on the 
walls thereof, then he sang : 

Here courtmen, they that fatten 
The wound-swan, dight the king's hall 
With helms and byrnies : see I 
On the walls good choice of either ; 
For no young one of the king-folk 
May boast of house-gear braver : 
That is a thing past doubting. 
Dear is the hall in all wise. 

Then he told the tale of his journeys and sang 
these staves : 

I bid the guards high-hearted 
Of the eager king, to hearken 
How brisk I bore my travel ; 
These staves I made on the faring. 
Sent was I in the harvest 
Up from the skates of swan-mead 
To fare far east to Sweden. 
Sithence slept I but Uttle. 

But when he got to talk to the king, he sang : 

Olaf the king ! uprightly 
I let hold word betwixt us, 
Whenas I came and met there 
The famed and mighty Rognvald. 
I learnt of many a matter 
Of the good gold-ward in Garthrealm, 
And never courtman heard I 
More clear in dealing speech-word. 

150 The Saga Library, XCII 

drowner of the Rhine-sun, 
The earls'-kin prayed thee ever 
Hold well each of his house-carles, 
Whoe'er should get him hither. 
But, Listi's lord, whoever 

Of thine shall go see thither — 
This shall be e'en as surely — 
Hath safe hold under Rognvald. 

King, when from out the west land 

1 came, most folk were deeming 
That Eric's kin already 

Had whet these wiles against them. 
But the brother's help (I say it) 
Of the Wolf's kin hath nathless 
Propped thee, to gain the earls' land 
That erst from Svein thou tookest. 

" Wise Wolf, let take betwixt you, 
Ye twain, the deed of peace-word." 
Such answer there we gat us ; 
Both ye, lay down your guilts now ! 
The minisher of thief-kin, 
Rognvald, said unto thee, king, 
'Twas given nought to wreak thee 
For the bond of peace late riven. 

Soon telleth Sigvat to the king the tidings 
whereof he had heard ; at first the king was all 
unmerry, when Sigvat told him of the wooing of 
King Jarisleif, saying that for nought but evil 
might he look from the Swede-king: "But one 
day we may get the luck to pay him with some 

But as time past away, the king asked Sigvat 
for many tidings from the east of Gautland. 
Sigvat told him much about the fairness and 
sweet-speech of Astrid, the king's daughter, and 
therewith that every man there said she was in no 

X C 1 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 5 1 

way worse than Ingigerd her sister. The king 
took that well into his ears ; and Sigvat told him 
all the converse they had holden betwixt them, he 
and Astrid ; and the king found that right good, 
and said : " The Swede-king will not think that I 
shall dare wed his daughter without his will." But 
this matter was not given out to any more folk. 
But King Olaf and Sigvat the Skald spoke often 
about it. The king asked Sigvat heedfully, what 
he had found out about Earl Rognvald : " What 
like friend he be of ours ? " said he. Sigvat said 
the earl was the greatest friend of King Olaf, and 
sang withal : 

O mighty king, thy friendship 
Hold fast with mighty Rognvald, 
A friend in need he standeth 
Both night and day before thee. 
O Thing's crafts-master, wot I 
That in him still thou ownest 
The best friend of all East-ways, 
All downlong the green salt-sea. 


AFTER Yule, they two, Thord Skotakoll, 
a sister's son of Sigvat the Skald, and 
another foot-swain of Sigvat, went secretly 
from the court, and went east to Gautland, whither 
they had fared in company with Sigvat the harvest- 
tide before. But when they came to the court 
of Earl Rognvald, they brought forth tokens 
before the earl such as Sigvat and the earl had 

152 The Saga Library. XCIV 

done between them at parting ; withal they brought 
the earl the tokens which King Olaf himself had 
sent the earl in trust. Forthwith the earl maketh 
ready at once for faring, and with him Astrid, the 
king's daughter, having with them nigh an hundred 
of men, a picked company, both of the body-guard 
and of sons of mighty bonders, with all array of the 
choicest, both weapons and raiment and horses. 
So they rode north into Norway unto Sarpsburg, 
whereto they came at Candlemas. 


KING OLAF had caused all things to 
be made ready there ; there was all kinds 
of drink, the best that might be gotten, 
and all other goods there were of the best. He 
had also summoned to him, from the countrysides 
around, many great men. And when the earl with 
his company came there the king welcomed him 
wondrous well, and big and good chambers were 
gotten for the earl, dight most stately ; serving-men 
withal were appointed to him, and therewith they who 
should look to it that nought should be lacking 
whereby the feast might be glorified. But when 
this banquet had stood for certain days, the king 
and the earl and the king's daughter met at a 
parley, and the upshot of their talk was this, that 
they settled that Earl Rognvald should betroth 
Astrid, the daughter of Olaf the Swede-king, to 
Olaf, Norway's king, with the same dowry which 
afore had been covenanted that Ingigerd, her 

XCV The story of Olaf the Holy. 153 

sister, should take with her from home. The king 
withal was to give to Astrid such a jointure as he 
was to have settled on Ingigerd her sister. Then was 
the banquet eked, and the bridal of King Olaf and 
Queen Astrid was drunk with mickle glory. After 
this Earl Rognvald went back to Gautland, and at 
parting the king bestowed good gifts and great upon 
the earl, and in the dearest friendship they parted, 
and to that they held as long as they lived. 


THE next spring there came to Sweden 
messengers from King Jarisleif east away 
from Holmgarth, and they fared to see 
to the matter of King Olafs promise from the 
past summer to give Ingigerd his daughter to King 
Jarisleif King Olaf put the matter before Ingigerd, 
and said it was his will that she should wed King 
Jarisleif; she answers : " If I am to be wedded to 
King Jarisleif, then," she says, " will I have for my 
jointure Aldeigia-burg and the earldom that 
thereto appertaineth." But the Garthrealm mes- 
sengers yeasaid this on behalf of their king. Then 
spoke Ingigerd : "If I am to go east into Garth- 
realm, then will I choose that man out of the realm 
of Sweden to go with me whom I deem most meet 
thereto ; and I also claim that east there he have a 
title nowise lesser than here, and a right and 
honours in no way worser or lesser than here he 
has." This the king yeasaid and the messengers 
in like wise ; and the king plighted his troth, 

154 The Saga Library. XCV 

and the messengers withal, to this matter. Then 
the king asked Ingigerd who the man was 
within his realm whom she is minded to choose 
for her following. She answers : " That man 
is Rognvald the earl, son of Wolf, my kins- 
man." The king answers : " Otherwise I have 
made up my mind to reward Earl Rognvald for the 
betrayal of his lord, in that he took my daughter to 
Norway and handed her over for a whore to the 
Thick Man, and whereas he knew, moreover, that 
he was our greatest unfriend ; for that deed he shall 
hang aloft this summer." Ingigerd bade her father 
keep to the faith he had handselled her. And by 
reason of her praying, the matter came to this, 
that the king says, that Rognvald shall go in peace 
out of Sweden, but not come before his eyes, nor 
back to Sweden while Olaf was king. So Ingi- 
gerd sent men to meet the earl and to tell him 
these tidings, and appointed time and place with 
him where they should meet. So the earl made 
ready forthwith for his journey, and rode up into 
East Gautland, where he got him ship, and so went 
on with his company to the meeting with Ingigerd, 
the king's daughter ; and in the summer they went 
all together east into Garthrealm, and Ingigerd was 
then wedded to King Jarisleif. Their sons were 
Valdimar,Vissivald,Holti the Nimble. Queen Ingi- 
gerd gave to Earl Rognvald Aldeigia-burg and 
the earldom thereunto appertaining, and a long 
while Earl Rognvald was there and was a renowned 
man. The sons of Earl Rognvald and Ingibiorg 
were the Earl Wolf and the Earl Eilif. 

XCVI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 55 


THERE was a man named Emund of 
Skarar ; he was Lawman there in West 
Gautland, wisest of men, and the most 
deft of speech. He was of great kin, had many- 
kindred, and was exceeding wealthy. He was 
called a man of underhand dealings, and but 
middling trusty. He was the mightiest man in 
W^est Gautland, now when the earl was gone 
away. The same spring that Earl Rognvald 
went away from Gautland, the Gautland folk had 
a Thing between them, and murmured oft amongst 
themselves as to what the Swede-king would take 
up. They heard that he was wroth with them for 
having become friends with Norway's king rather 
than to uphold the strife with him. He also laid 
guilt on the men who had followed Astrid, his 
daughter, to Norway. So some urged that they 
should seek for avail at the hands of Norway's 
king, and offer him their service. But some letted 
this, and said that the West Gautlanders had no 
strength to uphold strife with the Swedes. " Nor- 
way's king will be afar from us," said they, " for 
the main of his land is far away from us ; and so 
the first thinof to look to is to send men to the 
Swede-king, and try to bring ourselves into peace 
with him. But if that is not to be brought about, 
then there is the choice before us to seek for aid of 
Norway's king." So the bonders bade Emund 
fare on this message, and he said yea thereto, and 
went with thirty men, and came forth into East 

156 The Saga Library. XCVI 

Gautland ; there were many of his kinsmen and 
friends, and he gat good welcome there. _ Here 
he talked this troublous matter over with the 
wisest men, and they deemed it contrary to cus- 
tom and law, what the king was doing to them. 
So Emund went up into Swede-realm, and had 
there talk with many men of might, and there 
everything came to one and the same point. 

He held on his journey till such time as he 
came on eve of a day to Upsala ; there they got 
good quarters for them, and rested the night over. 
But the next day Emund went to see the king as 
he sat in his law-court, and a throng of folk with 
him. Emund went up before the king, and bowed 
to him, and greeted him. The king looked up at 
him, and greeted him, and asked him of tidings. 
Emund answered : '• Small are the tidings amongst 
us Gautlanders ; but news we deem it, that Atti 
the Fool, of Vermland went last winter up into the 
Mark with his snowshoes and bow ; in our esteem 
he is the greatest of hunters. He had gotten on 
the mountain so many furs, that he had filled his 
sleigh with as much as he could bring after him. 
Then he turned homeward from the Mark, but in 
the wood he saw a squirrel, and shot at it, and 
missed it ; then was he wroth, and let loose the 
sleigh, and ran after the squirrel ; but the squirrel 
would ever keep there whereas the wood was 
thickest, whiles running by the roots, whiles up 
into the limbs ; then would he sail between the 
limbs into another tree. But whenever Atti shot 
at him, the arrow flew ever above or below him, 
but never went the squirrel where Atti did not see 

XCVI The story of Olaf the Holy. i^'j 

him. Now he got so eager for this prey, that he 
crept after it all day long, but none the more 
might he catch that squirrel. But when mirk 
night fell, he threw himself down on the snow as 
he was wont, and lay there the night through, but 
the weather was drifty. The next day Atti went 
to look for his sleigh, but never found it after, and 
in this plight fared home. These are my tidings, 

The king said : " Little enough tidings these, if 
there be nought more to tell." 

Emund answers: "Well, a short time agone 
there happened another matter which well may 
be called news, in that Gauti, son of Tovi, went 
with five warships down the Elf; and as he lay 
amidst the Oak-isles, there came the Danes with 
five large cheaping-ships. Then Gauti and his 
folk swiftly overcame four of the ships, losing not 
a man, and gaining measureless wealth. However, 
the fifth ship got away into the main, and gat 
under sail. But Gauti went after them with one 
ship, and at first drew in upon them, but then the 
wind fell to wax, so that there was greater way on 
the cheaping-ship, and they gat them into the main. 
Now would Gauti turn back, but the weather 
grew to a storm, and he wrecked his ship on Les- 
isle, and all the goods were lost and the greater 
part of the men. Now he had bidden his com- 
pany await him at the Oak-isles, but anon came 
the Danes upon them there with fifteen cheaping- 
ships, and slew them all, and took all the wealth 
they had gotten afore. Thus by greed had they 

158 The Saga Library. XCVI 

The king answered : " These be great tidings, 
and taleworthy. But what is thine errand hither ?" 
Answers Emund : " I am about this, lord, to get 
unravelled those knotty points wherein our laws 
and Upsala laws are diverse." 

Asks the king : " What is it whereof thou wilt 
bewail thee ? " 

Emund answers : " There were two men, of 
noble birth, equal of kindred, but unequal of 
wealth and temper ; they strove concerning lands, 
and each wrought scathe to the other, but he the 
more who was the mightier, until their strife was 
ended and doomed at an All-folk's Thing. Then 
had he to pay who was erst the mightier ; and for 
the first handsel he yielded a gosling for a goose, 
a sucking-pig for an old swine, and for a mark of 
burnt gold he delivered half a mark of gold 
and another half-mark of clay and rubble, and 
threatened him, to boot, with hard dealings, who 
had to take this payment of his debt. What doom 
ye hereon, lord ? " 

The king answered : ** Let him yield to the full 
what was awarded, and to his king the amount 
thrice over. And if it be not yolden at the term 
appointed, he shall fare away and be outlaw of all 
that is his own ; and let one half of his wealth fall 
to the king's garth, and the other to him whose 
wrong he had to boot." 

Emund took witness to this award of all those 
who were the mightiest there, and laid it to the 
laws that prevailed at the Upsala Thing. 

Thereupon he saluted the king, and went out 
thereafter. Thereupon other men set forth their 

XCVI The Story of Ola f the Holy. 159 

plaints before the king, and for along time that day 
he sat over the affairs of men. 

Now, when the king came to table, he asked 
where Lawman Emund was, and was told he sat at 
home in his quarters. Said the king: "Go fetch 
him ; he shall be my bidden guest to-day." Now 
came in the courses, and thereafter fared in the 
players with harps, and gigs, and song-tools, and 
then the skinkers of the drink. The king was 
exceeding merry ; he had many mighty men at his 
guest-bidding, and gave no heed to Emund. All 
that day the king drank, and slept through the 
night ; but on the morrow, when he awoke, he called 
to mind what Emund had spoken the day before. 
And when he was clad, he had his wise men called 
in to him. 

King Olaf had always with him twelve men of 
the wisest, who sat over the dooms with him, and 
gave counsel in knotty matters ; but that was 
nought without trouble, for the king misliked 
greatly if dooms were thrust away from right, and 
it would nowise do to gainsay him. 

Now at this parley the king took up the word, 
and bade Lawman Emund be called in thither. But 
when the messenger came back, " Lord," said he, 
" Lawman Emund rode off yesterday, as soon as he 
had had his meal." Then said the king : " Tell 
me this, good lords, what way pointed that question 
at law that Emund asked yesterday } " 

They answered : '* Lord, thou must have taken 
that to heart, if it pointed to aught else than what 
he spake." 

The king said : " Those two nobly-born men, of 

i6o The Saga Library. XCVI 

whom he then told the tale, that they had been at 
unpeace with each other, whereof one was the 
mightier, and yet each did scathe to the other, 
therein he told a tale of us two, me, and Olaf the 
Thick." " So it is, lord," said they, " even as thou 
sayest." Answereth the king : " The doom in 
our case was adjudged at the Upsala Thing. 
But what did it point to, when he said that so ill 
paid it was, that a gosling was given for a goose, 
a sucking-pig for an old swine, and half clay for all 
gold ? " 

Arnwith the Blind answers: "Lord," says he, 
" most unlike to each other are red gold and clay, 
but yet further sundered is king from thrall. Thou 
didst promise to Olaf the Thick thy daughter 
Ingigerd, who is king-born in all branches from 
the race of the Up-Swedes, the noblest stock in 
the North-lands, inasmuch as all that kindred hath 
come down from the gods themselves. But now 
King Olaf hath gotten for wife Astrid, who, though 
she be a king's child, hath for mother a bondwoman, 
and her a Wendish one withal. Wide apart are 
those kings, forsooth, one of whom taketh such a 
matter with thanks ; yea, a thing it is to be looked 
for, that a mere Norwegian should not hold him- 
self equal to the King of Upsala. Let us all give 
thanks that so it may endure, for the gods have 
for a long time recked mickle of their offspring, 
though now many folk be reckless of that faith." 

There were three brothers of them : Arnwith the 
Blind ; his eyesight was so little, that he was scarce 
war-worthy, though he was the nimblest-minded 
of men ; the second was Thorwith the Stammerer, 

XCVI The story of Olaf the Holy, i6i 

who might not get out two words one after the 
other, but he was the boldest man there, and the 
most freespoken ; the third was Freywith the 
Deaf, who was hard of hearing. All these brothers 
were men of might, wealthy, of high kin, and 
exceeding wise, and all in good liking of the king. 
Then spake King Olaf : " What does it point 
to, that which Emund said about Atti the Fool ? " 
Then answered none, but all looked on each 
other. The king said : " Speak up now ! " Then 
said Thorwith the Stammerer: "Atti, griping, 
greedy, ill-willed, doltish, foolish." Spake the 
king: " At whom is this thrust ? " Answered Frey- 
with the Deaf : " Lord, men will be barer spoken 
if they have thy leave thereto." The king said : 
" Tell now, Freywith, by my leave, whatever thou 
wiliest speak." Then Freywith took up the word : 
" Thorwith, my brother, who is called the wisest 
of us, calls such an one as Atti griping, doltish, and 
foolish; thereby calleth he him so, who is loth 
to peace, so that he striveth after small things, yet 
reacheth them not, and for this sake forfeiteth 
things profitable and great. Now 'tis true that I 
am deaf, but so many have now spoken out, that 
I have gotten to wot that men like it ill, mighty 
men no less than the commonalty, that thou, 
lord, dost not keep word with Norway's king. But 
this yet worse, that thou breakest the All-folk- 
doom, which was done at the Thing of Upsala. Thou 
needest nought fear Norway's king, nor the 
Dane-king, or never another, while the Swede- 
host will follow thee ; but if the folk of the land 
turn against thee with one accord, then we, 

IV. M 

1 62 The Saga Library. XCVI 

thy friends, see no rede which shall verily avail 

The king asketh : " Who will be made head- 
men herein to bewray me of my lands ? " 

Answered Freywith : " All Swedes will have 
their ancient laws and their full right. Look ye now 
to this, lord, how many of your chiefs are sitting 
here together in counsel with you. I am minded to 
think that it be sooth to say, that now are we six here 
together, whom ye call your counsellors, but all the 
others, methinketh, have ridden away and gone 
into the countrysides, there to have Things with 
the folk ; and sooth it is to tell thee, that the war- 
arrow has been shorn up and sent all over the 
land for the summoning of a Thing of Escheat. 
All we brethren have been bidden to have part 
in this rede, but none of us will have the name to be 
called Lord-betrayer ; for nought such was ever 
our father." 

Then the king took up the word, saying : 
"What rede shall we now take to? Mickle 
trouble is now borne in at our hands ; now there- 
fore, good lords, give me such counsel as that 
thereby I may hold to the kingdom and to the 
heritage of my forefathers ; for I am not minded to 
deal in strife with the whole host of the Swedes." 
Arnwith the Blind answered : " Lord, meseemeth 
rede, that thou ride down to Riveroyce with such 
company as will follow thee, and take ship there, 
and so fare out into the Low, and then summon 
the folk to thee. Fare stubbornly no more, but bid 
men law and lands-right, and thus get the war- 
arrow dropped ; as yet it will not have fared wide 

XCVI The story of Olaf the Holy. 163 

over the land, for the time hath been short thereto ; 
send thou such men of thine as thou trustest in to 
see the men who have this rede on hand, and try 
if this murmur may be laid." 

The king saith he will take that rede. " And 
my will is," says he, " that ye brothers fare this 
errand for me, for I trust you best of all my 

Then said Thorwith the Stammerer : " I shall 
abide behind : let James go ; this needeth." 

Then said Freywith : " Do we, lord, even as 
Thorwith says ; he will not sunder him from thee 
in this peril ; but I and Arnwith shall fare." 

Now this counsel was carried out, that King 
Olaf went to his ships and held into the Low ; and 
speedily a multitude of folk gathered to him. But 
those brothers, Freywith and Arnwith, rode out to 
Ullers-acre, and had with them James, the king's 
son, though they kept his journey privy. They 
were speedily ware that there was before them a 
gathering and running to arms, whereas the bonders 
were holding Thing day and night. And whenas 
Freywith and his brother came there upon many 
kinsmen and friends, they said they would betake 
them to that flock, and thereof they all were full 
fain. Forthwith all counsels were made over to 
those brothers, and the throng drew to them. Now 
men spake, all of them, one and the same thing, 
saying that they would have Olaf for king over 
them no longer, and would not suffer at his hands 
his lawlessness and insolence ; whereas he would 
listen to no man's word, nay, not even though 
mighty lords should tell him the very truth. 

164 The Saga Library. XCVI 

Now when Freywith found the eagerness of 
people, he saw into what hopeless plight things 
were gotten. So he had meetings with the great 
men of the land, and set forth the matter before 
them and spoke thus : " Meseemeth, if this great 
business shall come to pass, to wit, to take Olaf 
Ericson from his realm, we, the Up-Swedes, shall 
have to be at the head of it ; for so it hath alway 
been, that whatsoever the Up-Swede lords have 
made fast between them, that same counsel hath 
hearkened the other folk of the land. Never 
needed our forefathers to beg the West-Gauts for 
counsel of the land-steering. Now we shall not 
be such outcasts among our kindred that Emund 
must needs learn us rede. And I will that we 
bind us rede together, we kinsmen and friends." 

This they all yeasaid, and deemed it well 
spoken. Thereafter all the throng of folk joined 
the bond that the Up-Swede lords made among 
them, and now Freywith and Arnwith were chiefs 
over the company. But when Emund saw this, 
he misdoubted him if this rede would be carried 
through. So he went to meet those brothers, and 
they had talk together, and Freywith asked 
Emund : " What mind have ye hereover, if Olaf 
Ericson be bereft of life, to wit, what king ye will 
have to you ? " 

Emund answered : "Him who we deem the 
fittest thereto, no matter whether he be of a high 
degree or not." 

Freywith answered : " We Up-Swedes will no- 
wise have it that in our days the kingship should 
sunder from the lineage of the ancient kings while 

XCVI The story of Olaf the Holy. 165 

there is so good avail thereto as now is. King 
Olaf hath two sons, and one or the other we will 
have for king ; yet wide is the sundering betwixt 
them, whereas one is wedlock-born and a Swede 
of either kin, the other a son of a bondwoman 
and half a Wend." 

At this word there was great cheering, and all 
would have James for king. 

Then said Emund : " As for this time ye Up- 
Swedes have the might to rule the matter. But 
this I tell you, as will come to pass hereafter, that 
some of those who now will listen to nought but 
that the kingdom in Sweden go in the ancient 
lineage, will themselves live to yeasay the kingdom 
passing into other kindred which certes will better 

Thereafter the brothers Freywith and Arnwith 
let lead forth James, the king's son, there at the 
Thing, and let give him the king's name ; and there- 
withal the Swedes gave him the name of Onund, 
and thereby was he called ever afterwards as long 
as he lived. At this time was he ten or twelve 
years old. 

Thereafter King Onund took him a body-guard 
and chose him his captains, and they all together 
had as large a company as he deemed needful. 
But he gave leave to all the throng of the 
bonders to go home. 

After this messengers went about between the 
kings, and presently it came about that they 
met, themselves, and made peace together : Olaf 
should be king over the land as long as he lived ; 
he was to hold peace and friendship with the King 

1 66 The Saga Library. XCVII 

of Norway, and with all those men who had woven 
themselves into that matter between them. But 
Onund was to be king also, and to have of the land 
as much as father and son should agree upon ; but 
he should be bound to back up the bonders if King 
Olaf should do aught which they would not endure 
of him. 


HEREAFTER messengers went to Nor- 
way to meet King Olaf with the message 
that he should come to King's Rock to 
meet the Swede-king, whereto was added that it 
was the will of the Swede-king that they make 
pledge of peace together. But when King Olaf 
heard this message, he was, as ever, willing for 
peace, and so went with his company according as 
had been afore-settled. Now the Swede-king 
came there, and when they, father- and son-in-law, 
met, they bind peace and friendship betwixt them ; 
and now Olaf the Swede-king was good to speak with 
and meek of mood. So says Thorstein the Learned, 
that in H ising there was a dwelling that had whiles 
gone with Norway, whiles with Gautland. Then 
the kings spoke between them that they should 
go to lots for that having, and cast dice thereto ; 
and he was to have it who cast the strongest. 
Then the Swede-king threw two sixes, and said 
that King Olaf had now no need to throw. He 
answered : " There are still two sixes on the dice, 

X evil I The story of Olaf the Holy. 167 

and 'tis but little for the Lord my God to let them turn 
up." So he cast, and had two sixes uppermost. 
Then Olaf the Swede-king threw, and still up 
came two sixes. Then Olaf, Norway's king, threw, 
and there was six on one, but the other brake 
asunder, and thereon were seven. Thus he came by 
that dwelling. No more tidings of that meeting 
have we heard. But the kings parted in peace. 


AFTER these tidings whereof we have just 
been telling, King Olaf turned back with 
his company to the Wick ; and first to 
Tunsberg, and tarried there a little while, and 
then fared into the North-country, and in harvest 
all the way north to Thrandheim, where he had 
all things arrayed for winter-abode ; and there he 
sat the winter through. Then was King Olaf Harald- 
son sole ruler over all that realm which Harald 
Hairfair had swayed ; with this, moreover, that 
he was king alone in the land. By peace and 
covenant he had then gotten him that part of the 
land which Olaf the Swede-king had had before. 
But the part of the land which the Dane-king had 
had he took by force, and ruled over that as other- 
where in the land. Knut the Dane-king ruled at 
this time both over England and Denmark, and 
himself sat mostly in England, but set chieftains 
to rule over Denmark, and he laid no claim to 
Norway at that time. 

1 68 The Saga Library, XCIX 


SO is it said, that in the days of Harald 
Hairfair, King of Norway, the Orkneys 
were builded. Before that time they were 
but a viking-lair. Sigurd was the name of the first 
Earl of Orkney ; he was the son of Eystein Glumra, 
and brother to Rognvald the Mere-Earl. But 
after Sigurd, Guthorm his son was earl for one 
winter. After him Turf-Einar took the earldom ; 
he was the son of Earl Rognvald, and was for a 
long time earl and a mighty man withal. Halfdan 
High-leg, son of Harald Hairfair, went against 
Turf-Einar, and drove him away from Orkney, 
but he came back again and slew Halfdan in 
Rinansey ; whereupon King Harald went with a 
war-host to Orkney, and Einar fled into Scotland, 
while Harald let the Orkneyings swear him all 
their odal lands. But after this king and earl 
made peace between them, and the earl became 
the king's man and took the lands in fief of the 
king, but was to pay no scat, whereas they lay so 
open to war. The earl paid the king sixty marks 
of gold. Hereafter King Harald harried into 
Scotland, as is told of in Glymdrapa. 

After Turf-Einar the rule over those lands came 
to his sons Arnkel, Erlend, and Thorfin Skull- 
cleaver. In their days came from Norway Eric 
Bloodaxe, and to him the earls were a-feoffed. 
Arnkel and Erlend fell in war, but Thorfin ruled 
the lands and became an old man. His sons were 
these : Arnfin, Howard, Hlodver, Liot, Skuli, 

X C I X The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 69 

Their mother was Grelad, daughter of Dungad, 
Earl of Caithness, but her mother was Groa, the 
daughter of Thorstein the Red. 

In the latter days of Earl Thorfin there came 
from Norway the sons of Bloodaxe, whenas they 
had fled out of the land before Earl Hakon ; 
mickle was the tyranny of them all over Orkney. 
Earl Thorfin died of sickness, and after him his 
sons ruled over the land, and many be the tales 
told of them. Hlodver was the longest-lived of 
them, and ruled alone over the land when the 
others were no more. His son was Sigurd the 
Thick, who took the earldom after him, and was a 
mighty man and a great warrior. 

In his days fared Olaf Tryggvison from western 
viking together with his company, and hove in to 
Orkney and laid hands on Earl Sigurd in Rogn- 
valdsey, who lay there before him with but one ship. 
King Olaf offered the earl this ransom of his life, that 
he should take christening and the right faith, and 
become his man and bid christening throughout 
all Orkney. King Olaf took for hostage his son, 
who hight Hound or Whelp. Thence Olaf went 
to Norway and became king there. Hound tarried 
with King Olaf for some winters and died there. 
But thereafter Earl Sigurd did no service to Kine 
Olaf. He went and wedded the daughter of 
Malcolm, the King of the Scotch, and their son 
was Thorfin ; but besides him there were these 
older sons of Earl Sigurd : Summerlid, Brusi, 
Einar Wrongmouth. Five winters or four after 
the fall of Olaf Tryggvison Earl Sigurd fared to 
Ireland, but he set his elder sons to the ruling 

1 70 The Saga Library, C 

of the lands ; Thorfin he sent to the Scottish king, 
his mother's father. In that journey Earl Sigurd 
fell in the Brian battle. But when the news 
thereof came to Orkney, then were taken to earls 
those brethren, Summerlid, Brusi, Einar, and they 
shared the islands into thirds between them. 
Thorfin Sigurdson was five winters old when 
Earl Sigurd fell. But when the Scottish king 
heard the news of his fall, he gave to his kinsman 
Thorfin Caithness and Sunderland and an earl's 
name therewithal, and got men to rule over his 
dominion with him. Earl Thorfin was from his 
youth up speedily wrought with all pith ; he 
was mickle and stark ; a man ill-favoured ; and so 
soon as he waxed in years, it was easily seen of 
him that he was a grasping man, hard and grim 
and exceeding wise. So saith Arnor the earls' 
skald : 

No man beneath the cloud-hall 
Younger than Einar's brother 
Was held more nimble-minded 
To ward land or to war land. 


THE brothers, Einar and Brusi, were unlike 
in mind. Brusi was meek and peaceful, 
wise, deft of speech, and well-beloved. 
Einar was stubborn, sullen, and gruff, grasping 
and griping, and a great warrior. Summerlid was 
like to Brusi in his ways ; he was the oldest and 
the shortest-lived of those brethren, and died of 

CI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 171 

sickness. After his death Thorfin laid claim to 
his share of Orkney. Einar answered that Thorfin 
held Caithness and Sunderland, that dominion 
which their father Earl Sigurd had had before, 
and this he deemed to be much more than a third 
part of Orkney, and therefore he would not yea- 
say Thorfin's sharing ; but Brusi, for his part, 
granted the sharing : " for I will not," said he, 
"hanker after more of the lands than the third 
which I own of right." Then Einar took under 
him two-thirds of the islands, and became a mighty 
man, and had many folk about him ; in summer 
he would oft be a-warring, and had out mickle 
gatherings from the land, but all uneven were his 
viking-gettings. Then the bonders began to be 
weary of this toil, but the earl upheld with ex- 
ceeding masterfulness all that was laid on them, 
and let it avail no man to speak thereagainst. 
Earl Einar was the most overbearing of men. 
Then befell dearth in his dominion by reason of 
the toil and money-cost which the bonders were 
put to ; but in that deal of the land which Brusi 
had was mickle increase and sweet life for the 
bonders, and well-beloved that earl was. 


TH E RE was a man hight Amundi, a mighty 
man and wealthy, who dwelt in Rossey at 
Sandwick on Laupandaness. Thorkel 
was the name of his son, of all men the doughtiest 
in Orkney. Amundi was the wisest of men, and 

172 The Saga Library . CI 

one of the best accounted of in the islands. Now 
it befell one spring, when Earl Einar once more 
bade out his folk as he was wont, that the bonders 
made ill murmur thereat, and laid their case before 
Amundi, and bade him speak up for them some 
furtherance before the earl. He answers : "The 
earl is all unheedful ; " and he gave it out that it 
would be of no avail to bid any boon whatsoever 
of the earl in this matter ; " moreover, the friend- 
ship between me and the earl is good enough as 
matters stand ; but meseemeth things would be at 
the point of peril if we should get to wrangling, 
looking to the mood of each of us ; so," says 
Amundi, " I will have nought to do herein." 

Then they spoke about this to Thorkel, but he 
was unwilling, though at last, from the egging of 
men, he promised. Amundi deemed he had pro- 
mised over-hastily. 

Now when the earl held a Thing, then spake 
Thorkel on behalf of the bonders, and bade the 
earl spare men of those burdens ; and he set forth 
the need of men. The earl answered well, and 
said he will pay mickle honour to Thorkel's word : 
" I was now minded to have six ships out of the 
land, but now will I have no more than three. 
But thou, Thorkel, ask such boons never again." 
The bonders thanked Thorkel well for his aid. 
The earl went on his viking and came back in 

But the next spring the earl had the same 
bidding whereto he was wont, and held a Thing 
with the bonders. Now Thorkel spoke again and 
bade the earl spare the bonders. The earl 

C 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 73 

answers wrathfully, and says that the lot of the 
bonders shall only be the worser for his speakincr 
up for them. He made himself so wood-wroth 
that he said that next spring they should not both 
of them meet hale at the Thing ; and therewith he 
broke up the Thing. 

Now when Amundi knew for sure what words 
Thorkel and the earl had had together, he bade 
Thorkel get him gone, and he crossed over on to 
Caithness to Earl Thorfin. Thorkel was there 
for a long time thereafter, and loved the earl well, 
whereas he was young; and thereafter was he 
called Thorkel the Fosterfather, and a fair-famed 
man was he. 


THERE were more mighty men who fled 
away from their lands in Orkney before 
the overmastery of Earl Einar ; the most 
of them fled over to Caithness to Earl Thorfin ; 
but othersome fled from Orkney to Norway, and 
others again to sundry lands. But when Earl 
Thorfin grew into man's estate, he sent word to his 
brother, Einar, and craved of him the dominion 
whereto he had a title in Orkney, to wit, one-third 
of the islands. Einar was slow to minish his 
realm. But when Thorfin heard thereof, he bade 
out folk from Caithness, and fared out into the 
islands. And when Earl Einar had news thereof, 
he gathers an host and is minded to ward his lands. 
Earl Brusi also gathers an host and fares to meet 

1 74 The Saga Library. C 1 1 1 

them, and bears between them words of peace. 
And hereon they made such terms of peace, that 
Earl Thorfin should have one-third of the islands 
in Orkney, even as appertained to him by right. 
But Brusi and Einar joined their lots together into 
one, over which Einar was to rule alone ; but if 
either should die before the other, then was the 
longest-lived to take to him the other's lands. But 
this covenant was deemed not to be fair, whereas 
Brusi had a son hight Rognvald, but Einar was 
without sons. So now Earl Thorfin set his men 
to look after his dominion in Orkney, while he 
abode mostly in Caithness. Earl Einar was for 
the most part in summer a-warring about Ireland 
and Scotland and Bretland. 


ONE summer, when Earl Einar was warring 
on Ireland, it befell that he had a fight in 
Ulfreksfirth with Konofogor, King of the 
Irish, even as is writ afore, that Earl Einar gat 
there a mickle overthrow and loss of men. 

The next summer Eyvind Urochs-horn went 
away from the west from Ireland minded for 
Norway. But inasmuch as the weather was 
stormy, and the roosts could not be crossed, 
Eyvind turned to Asmundbay and lay there a while 
weather-bound. But when Einar the earl heard 
this, he drew thither with a mickle host, and laid 
hands there on Eyvind and let slay him, but gave 
life to most of his men ; and they went east to 

cm The story of Olaf the Holy. 175 

Norway in the autumn, and came to meet King 
Olaf, and told him of the making away of Eyvind. 
The king answered few words thereover, but it was 
to be found that he deemed this mickle manscathe, 
and a deed done sorely in his despite ; and few- 
spoken he was on most things which he took 
greatly to heart. 

Earl Thorfin sent Thorkel Fosterfather out into 
the isles to gather his dues. Earl Einar wyted 
Thorkel much of that uprising of Earl Thorfin to 
claim lands out in Orkney. So Thorkel went 
speedily away from the isles over to Caithness. 
He told Earl Thorfin that he had made sure of this, 
that Earl Einar had minded him death, if his kins- 
men and friends had not brought him timely news. 
" Now shall I," says he, "have the chance before 
me, either to let such be the meeting between me 
and the earl, that matters come to an end between 
us ; but the other choice is to fare further away, and 
thither whereover his sway be not." The earl 
urged that Thorkel should fare east to Norway to 
meet King Olaf : " thou wilt be," says he, *' much 
accounted of wheresoever thou comest amono- men 
of high degree, but I know the temper of you 
both, thee and the earl, so well, that ye will 
take short aim at each other." So then Thorkel 
got ready and went in autumn to Norway, and then 
to meet King Olaf, and he tarried there over the 
winter in mickle good-liking. The king had Thorkel 
much into his counsels, and deemed him, as sooth 
was, a wise man, and mickle stirring in affairs. The 
king found this in his converse, that he told a very 
different tale of the two earls, whereas he was a 

176 The Saga Library. CIV 

much friend to Thorfln, but laid heavy charges 
at the door of Earl Einar. So early in the spring 
the king sent a ship west beyond sea for Earl 
Thorfin, and with it the word that the earl should 
come east to meet him. And that journey the earl 
did not lay under his head, for friendly words went 
with the message. 


E"^ ARL THORFIN went east to Norway, 
{ and came to see King Olaf, and had a 
^ good welcome of him, and tarried there 
a while that summer. And when he went back 
west, King Olaf gave him a long-ship great and 
good, with all gear. Thorkel Fosterfather betook 
himself to the journey with the earl, and the earl 
gave him the ship he had had from the west that 
same summer. The king and the earl parted in 
mickle good-liking. Earl Thorfin came to Orkney 
in the harvest-tide, and when Earl Einar heard 
thereof, he had out a great company and lay aboard 
ship. But Earl Brusi went to meet both those 
brethren, and to bear words of peace between them, 
and once again it came to this, that they were 
appeased and bound the peace with oaths. Thorkel 
Fosterfather was to be in peace and friendship with 
Earl Einar, and it was settled that each should give 
a feast to the other, and that the earl should first 
seek to Thorkel's at Sandwick. 

But when the earl was there a-feasting the cheer 
was of the noblest, yet the earl was nowise merry. 

CIV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 77 

A great hall was there with doors at either end. 
Now the day whereon the earl was to go away 
Thorkel was to go home with him a-feasting. 
Thorkel sends forth men a-spying the road where- 
by they were to fare that day ; and when the spies 
came back, they told Thorkel that they had come 
upon three waylayings and armed men in each, 
"And we are minded to think," say they, "that 
treason is toward." Now when Thorkel heard 
this he tarried his arrayal, and gathered his men 
to him. The earl bade him get ready, saying it 
was high time to ride off. Thorkel said he had 
many things to give heed to ; and whiles he 
would be going out and whiles he went in. Fires 
were burning on the floor ; and now he came in 
through one of the doors, and behind him a man 
called" Hallward, an Iceland man, an Eastfirther ; 
he locked the door after them. Thorkel walked 
up the hall between the fire and the place where 
the earl was sitting. The earl asked : " Art thou 
not ready yet ? " Thorkel answers : " Now am I 
ready." And therewith he hewed at the earl and 
smote his head ; and the earl fell on the floor. 

Then spake the Iceland man : " Never saw I 
such drop-handed ones as you, whereas ye drag 
not the earl out of the fire." Therewith he thrust 
in a stake under the nape of the neck of the earl 
and hove him up towards the dais. 

Then Thorkel, he and his fellow, went out 
swiftly through another door than that whereby 
they had come in, and there without stood Thor- 
kel's men all-weaponed. 

The earl's men took hold of him, and by then 

IV. N 

1 78 The Saga Library. CV 

he was dead ; but their hands fell down all from 
avenging him, whereas, moreover, this was done 
so suddenly, and none looked for such a deed 
from Thorkel, inasmuch as they all thought that 
so would things be still, as they had been settled 
before, to wit, that friendship yet was between 
the earl and Thorkel ; moreover, most of the men 
within were weaponless, and many of them were 
already good friends of Thorkel. This also went 
toward the hap, that to Thorkel was fated a longer 
life. And now when he came out, he had a com- 
pany no less than the men of the earl. 

Then Thorkel fared to his ship, and the earl's 
men went their ways. That day Thorkel sailed 
straight away and east into the main ; it was after 
Winter-niofhts, and he came safe and sound to 
Norway, and fared at his swiftest to meet King 
Olaf, of whom he had a right good welcome. 
The king was well pleased with this work, and 
Thorkel tarried with him throug;h the winter. 


AFTER the fall of Earl Einar, Earl Brusi 
took that deal of the islands which Earl 
Einar had had afore, for there were many 
folk witnesses thereto, under what covenant those 
brothers, Einar and Brusi, had made fellowship. 
But Thorfin thought it most just that each of 
them should have half of the islands, yet that 
winter Brusi had two-thirds thereof The next 
spring Thorfin laid claim against Brusi to those 

C V The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 79 

lands, saying that he would have one-half with 
Brusi, but Brusi would not give yeasay hereto. 
Now they had Things and parleys over this busi- 
ness, and their friends went between to settle the 
matter, but so it came about, that Thorfin said he 
would like nouofht but to have one-half of the 
islands ; and said this, moreover, that Brusi needed 
to have nought more than one-third, seeing the 
mind of him. Brusi answers : " I was content," 
says he, " to have that one-third of the land which 
I took in heritage after my father, nor did any one 
lay claim to it at my hands ; but now I have taken 
a second third in heritage after my brother, ac- 
cording to rightful covenant. But though I be 
unmighty to try masteries with thee, brother, yet 
will I seek otherwhere than to yeasay my lands 
from me as yet." And thus they broke off this 

But when Brusi saw that he would not have 
avail to stand on an even footing with Thorfin, 
whereas Thorfin had much greater might, and 
trust in the King of Scotland his grandfather, 
therefore Brusi a-reded him to sail away east and 
meet King Olaf, and he had with him Rognvald 
his son, who was then ten winters old. But when 
the earl met the king, he had good welcome of 
him. And when the earl put forth his errand 
and told the king all the matter between him 
and his brother, and asked the king to give him 
strength to hold his dominion, and offered in 
return his full friendship, the king answered and 
took up his tale there whereas Harald Hairfair 
had made his own all odal land in the Orkneys ; 

i8o The Saga Library. CV 

but the earls had ever since held those lands in 
fief, but never as their own ; and in token thereof, 
he says that when Eric Bloodaxe and his sons 
were in the Orkneys, the earls were his liegemen. 
*' But when Olaf Tryggvison my kinsman came 
there, Earl Sigurd thy father became his man. 
Now I have taken all the heritage after King 
Olaf, and I will give this choice, that thou become 
my man, and then will I give thee the islands in 
fief, and we shall thus try, if I give thee my 
strength, whether that shall be of more avail to 
thee, or the backing-up of the King of Scotland 
to Thorfin thy brother. But if thou wilt not take 
this choice, then shall I go seek those havings, and 
the odal lands which my kinsmen and forefathers 
have owned west-away." 

These words the earl brought home to his 
mind, and laid them before his friends, and sought 
counsel of them as to what he should say yea to, 
whether he should as the matter stood make peace 
with King Olaf and become his man. " But the 
other thing is unseen to me, what my lot shall be at 
our parting, if I say no thereto, whereas the king 
has laid bare the claim which he deems him to have 
to the Orkneys ; but because of his masterfulness, 
seeing that I have come here, it will be but little 
for him to deal with my affairs even as it seemeth 
good to him." 

Now although the earl found drawbacks in 
either case, he took the choice to lay all his case 
in the hand of the king, himself and his dominion 
withal. Thus King Olaf took over from the earl 
power and sway over all the heritage lands of the 

C VI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 8 1 

earl. So the earl became his man, and bound it 
with sworn oath. 


EARL THORFIN heard that Brusi his 
brother was gone east to meet King Olaf 
and to seek avail of him. But for this 
reason, that Thorfin had been before to see King 
Olaf, and had gotten himself into friendship with 
him, he thought he had there a safe enough place, 
and he wotted moreover that there would be 
many furtherers of his case, but more would they 
be, if he himself came thereto. So Earl Thorfin 
took that rede, that he got him ready at his 
swiftest and went east to Norway, and was minded 
that betwixt his coming and Brusi's should be as 
short a space as might be, and that Brusi's errand 
should not come to an end before Thorfin met 
the king. But this came otherwise to pass than 
the earl was minded, for when Earl Thorfin came 
to see King Olaf, then was ended and done the 
covenant between the king and Earl Brusi. And 
Earl Thorfin wotted not that Earl Brusi had 
given up his dominion until he was already come 
to King Olaf. Now when they met. Earl Thor- 
fin and King Olaf, then hove up King Olaf the 
very same claim to the dominion over Orkney 
which he had set forth to Earl Brusi, and he bade 
Thorfin the same thing, to wit, that he should 
will away to the king that deal of the islands 
which was the earl's already. The earl gave a 

1 82 The Saga Library. CVI 

good and a quiet answer to the words of the king, 
and said that he set a right great store by the 
friendship of the king. " And if thou, lord, deem 
thyself in need of my aid against other chieftains, 
thou hast fully earned it already ; but it is not 
handy for me to give thee homage, because I am 
already an earl of the Scottish king and his liege- 

But when the king found that the earl hung 
back in his answers to these claims of his which 
he had already set forth, then spake the king : " If 
thou, earl, wilt not become my man, then is the 
choice open to me to set what man I will over 
Orkney ; but I will that thou make me oath not 
to lay claim to those lands, and to leave them in 
peace whom I set thereover. But if thou wilt 
take neither choice, then he who rules the lands 
will deem that unpeace shall be looked for of thee, 
nor mayst thou deem it wonderful then though dale 
meet knoll." 

The earl answers and prayed the king for 
respite to think the matter over. The king did 
so, and allowed the earl a while to take counsel 
on this choice with his men. 

Then he prayed the king to give him time until 
next summer, that he might first go West-over-sea, 
because his counsellors were at home, but he was 
but a child of years. But the king bade him make 
kis choice there and then. 

Now Thorkel Fosterfather was at that time 
with King Olaf. He sent a man privily to Earl 
Thorfin, and bade him, whatsoever were in his 
heart, not to set his mind on parting as at this 

CVI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 83 

time from King Olaf without coming to peace, 
seeing that he had gotten into the hands of the 
king. By this reminder the earl thought he saw 
the only choice of good hap was to let the king have 
his will as then. But this seemed to him nowise 
choice-worthy, to wit, that himself should have no 
hope of his heritage, and withal that he swear 
oath that they should hold his dominion in peace, 
who had no birthright thereto. But whereas he 
misdoubted him as to his getting away, he chose 
to come under the hand of the king and become 
his man, even as Brusi had done. 

The king found that Thorfin was a man much 
more high-mettled than Brusi, and could away 
worse with this penalty ; wherefore he trusted in 
Thorfin worse than in Brusi, for the kino- saw 
through it, that Thorfin would deem that he 
might look for the backing of the Scottish king 
if he should break this covenant. The king 
wotted this of his wisdom, that Brusi came loth 
into all the peace-covenant, but that he said 
that only which he was minded to hold. But as 
to Thorfin, when he had made up his mind as to 
what to agree to, he came cheerfully into all the 
terms, and hung back in nought which the king 
was the first to settle. But this the king mis- 
doubted, that the earl would be minded to throw 
over some of the covenant. 

184 The Saga Library. CVII 


WHEN King Olaf had thought out all 
this matter, he let blow to a thronged 
assembly, and called thither the earls. 
Then said the king : "Now will I make clear 
the covenant between me and the earls of Orkney 
unto all people. They have now yeasaid my 
being the owner of Orkney and Shetland, and 
have become my men, both of them, and have 
bound all this with sworn oaths, and now I give 
the dominion to them as a fief, one-third of the 
lands to Brusi, another third to Thorfin, even as 
they had had before. But that third which Einar 
Wrongmouth had, I claim to have fallen into my 
court in return for his having slain Eyvind 
Urochs-horn, my courtman and fellow and dear 
friend ; to that deal of the islands I will look in 
the manner that seemeth good to me. This also 
do I crave of you brethren, my earls, that I will 
ye take peace of Thorkel Amundson for the 
slaying of your brother Einar, and I will that 
doom thereof be under me, if ye will say yea 
thereto." As in other matters, so also in this, the 
earls yeasaid all that the king spake. Then came 
forth Thorkel and handselled the king's doom^ in 
this case ; and so the Thing broke up. King 
Olaf awarded were-gild for Earl Einar equal to 
were-gild for three landed-men, but because of his 
guilt one-third of the gild should fall through. 
Then Earl Thorfin prayed the king for leave to 

€ VI I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 85 

go away, and when he had got it, the earl got 
ready at his swiftest. 

Now when he was all-boun and was drinking 
on board his ship, on a day Thorkel Amundson 
came before him all of a sudden and laid his head 
on the earl's knees, and bade him do with him 
what he would. The earl asked why he fared 
thus. " We be men already at peace by the king's 
doom ; so stand up, Thorkel." 

Thorkel did so, and said : " The peace that the 
king has made I shall abide by, as concerning the 
matter between me and Brusi, but the part therein 
that concerneth thee thou shalt rule alone ; for 
though the king has awarded me lands and land- 
dwelling in Orkney, yet can I of thy temper so 
well, that I have no business to those islands unless 
I go under thy given troth, earl. Therefore will 
I," says he, "bind myself to thee in this, never to 
come into Orkney, whatever the king may say." 
The earl held his peace, and was slow to fall to 
speech. Then he said : '' If thou wilt, Thorkel, 
that I doom in our matter rather than we abide 
by the king's doom, then this shall be the be- 
ginning of our peace-making, that thou shalt fare 
with me to Orkney and be with me, nor ever 
sunder from me but with my leave and freedom 
thereto. Thou shalt be bound to ward my land 
and to do all such works as I will let do while we 
are both alive." 

Thorkel answers : " This shall rest in thy 
power, earl, as all else wherein I may have my 

Then Thorkel stood forth and handselled all this 

1 86 The Saga Library . CVIII 

to the earl as he had quoth it. The earl said 
that as to were-gild he would set forth that matter 
later on, and then he took sworn oath of Thorkel 

Now Thorkel betook himself forthwith to the 
journey with the earl, who went away as soon as 
he was ready, and he and King Olaf never saw 
each other again. 


E^ ARL BRUSI tarried behind there, and 
I got ready more at his leisure, but before 
^ he went away King Olaf had certain 
parleys with him and spoke on this wise : " I am 
minded to think, earl, that I shall have in thee 
the man to trust and trow in West-over-sea 
yonder, and my mind is that thou have two-thirds 
of the lands to rule over, even as thou hast had 
before ; for my will it is that thou be in no way a 
lesser or a less mighty man, now that thou art my 
liege-man, than thou wert before. But I will 
make fast thy troth to me, in that I will that 
Rognvald thy son shall be left behind here with 
me. I see then that when thou hast both my 
backing and two-thirds of the islands, thou mayest 
well hold thine own against Thorfin thy brother." 
Brusi took that with thanks, the having two- 
thirds rather than one-third of the islands ; and 
after this he tarried but a little while or ever he 
went away, and he came in the harvest-tide to 

C I X The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 87 

Rognvald, Brusi's son, was left behind in the 
east with King Olaf; he was the goodliest of all 
men to look upon, his hair thick and yellow as 
silk ; he was of early days big and strong, and of 
all men was he the likeliest, both by reason of his 
wits and his courteous manners. He was for a 
long time thereafter with King Olaf. Hereof 
telleth Ottar the Swart in that drapa which he 
wrought on King Olaf: 

The Shetlanders, grown leal now, 
To thee for thanes are counted ; 
Now keep thou ward on the power, 
On the good ones of the folk-kings. 
Ne'er yet was seen an Yngling 
In Eastland, who beneath him 
Brake down the isles of Westland, 
Ere thee we gat, O fight-swift. 


^ ^ THEN the brethren, Thorfin and Brusi, 
\ /\ / came west to Orkney, Brusi took two- 
V V thirds of the islands to rule over, and 
Thorfin one-third. He was ever in Caithness and 
in Scotland, and set his men over the islands. So 
now Brusi alone had the warding of the islands, 
which at that time lay much open to war, in that 
Northmen and Danes harried much in western 
viking, and oft came on the Orkneys as they fared 
to and fro the west, and ness-liftings they made. 
Brusi wyted his brother Thorfin, whereas he had 
no folk out for the warding of Orkney and Shet- 
land, but yet took scat and dues therefrom as 

1 88 The Saga Library. CIX 

appertained to his share. Then Thorfin bade 
him the choice to have one-third of the land, and 
that Thorfin should have the other two and 
uphold the land-warding on behalf of both of 
them. Now although this shifting did not speedily 
befall then, yet it is so told in the Earl-tales that it 
came to pass, and that Thorfin had two-thirds 
and Brusi one-third whenas Knut the Rich had 
laid Norway under him, and King Olaf was gone 
out of the land. 

Earl Thorfin, the son of Sigurd, was the noblest 
of all earls of the islands, and had more dominion 
than other Orkney earls ; he gat to him Shetland 
and Orkney and the South Isles, and had withal 
a great dominion in Scotland and Ireland. Thereto 
quoth Arnor the earls' skald : 

Folk hearkened to Ring-hater : 
From the Giant-isles to Dublin 
Each man was counted Thorfin's ; 
Truth tell I to the people. 

Thorfin was the greatest of warriors ; he took 
the earldom when he was but five winters old, and 
ruled for more than sixty winters, and died of 
sickness in the latter days of Harald Sigurdson. 
But Brusi died in the days of Knut the Rich, 
a little after the fall of King Olaf the Holy. 

ex The Story of Olaf the Holy, 1 89 


NOW fare forth two stories ; and now shall 
we take up the matter where we left it 
afore, whereas it was told how King Olaf 
Haraldson had made peace with Olaf the Swede- 
king, and how he had gone that same summer 
north to Thrandheim. At that time he had been 
king for five winters. That autumn he made all 
things ready for a winter dwelling in Nidoyce, 
and there he abode the winter through. That 
winter abode with King Olaf Thorkel Foster- 
father, the son of Amund, as was written before. 

King Olaf set himself much to asking how 
Christ's faith might be holden in the land ; and 
what he learnt thereof came to this, that Christian 
faith would not be holden to when one came north 
into Halogaland, and yet it fell far short of being 
well done both throughout Naumdale and Upper 
Thrandheim. Now there was a man named 
Harek, son of Eyvindthe Skald-spiller, who dwelt 
in the island called Thiotta, which lies in Haloga- 
land. Eyvind had been a man not of great 
wealth, but of high kin and mickle manhood. In 
Thiotta there lived at this time small bonders not 
a few. Harek bought him a stead first, not right 
great, and moved his household thither ; but after 
a few seasons he had cleared off all the other 
bonders who had dwelt there before, so that now 
he alone owned all the island, and reared for him- 
self there a right great manor. Harek speedily 
became right wealthy ; he was of mickle wisdom 

190 The Saga Library. CXI 

and a man of great ado. He had long been held 
in great honour by men of high degree. He was in 
the tale of kindred with the kings of Norway ; so 
for that sake Harek had much worship of the 
lords of the land. For Gunnhild, the mother of 
Harek's father, was the daughter of Earl Halfdan 
and Ingibiorg, the daughter of Harald Hairfair. 
By the time that these things befell Harek was 
somewhat stricken in years. 

Harek was the man most accounted of in all 
Halogaland. He had for a long while held the 
Fin-cheaping and the king's bailiwick over the 
Mark ; whiles he had it alone, whiles in fellowship 
with others. As yet he had not come to meet 
King Olaf, but words and messengers had gone 
between them, and all in loving wise. And the 
same winter that King Olaf sat in Nidoyce men 
went yet again between him and Harek of Thiotta. 
And then the king made it known that in the 
following summer he was minded to fare north 
into Halogaland and all the way north to the 
land's end. But of this journey the Halogalanders 
had right many misgivings. 


NOW King Olaf gat him ready in spring 
with five ships, and had three hundred 
men. And when he was all-boun, he 
dight his journey north along the land, and when 
he came into Naumdale-folk he summoned a 
Thing with the bonders, and at every Thing he 

ex 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 9 1 

was taken for king. There, as elsewhere, he let 
be read out the laws whereby he bade the folk of 
the land to hold to the Christian faith, at the peril 
of life and limb, or forfeiture of all goods for 
every man who would not go under Christ's law. 
There on many a man the king laid heavy 
penalties, and let them go alike over rich and 
unrich ; and in such a way he left things in every 
part, that all folk avowed they would hold to the 
holy faith. But most of the mightier men and many 
great bonders made banquets against the king's 
coming, and in this wise he went on all the way 
north to Halogaland. Harek of Thiotta made a 
feast for the king, and there was right mickle 
throng and the feast of the bravest. There- 
withal Harek became King Olafs landed-man, 
and King Olaf gave him the same grants as he 
had held of the former lords of the land. 


A MAN is named Grankel, or Granketil, a 
wealthy bonder, and now somewhat on in 
years. But while he was in his young 
days he had been in viking and a mickle warrior. 
He was a man of great prowess in most things 
concerning manly deeds. Asmund was the 
name of his son, and was in all things like to 
his father, or somewhat further he went. It 
was the say of many men that by goodliness, 
strength, and prowess, he was the third best 
endowed man in Norway. But named the first 

192 The Saga Library. CXI I 

therein were King Hakon, Athelstan's Fosterson^ 
and Olaf Tryggvison. 

Now Grankel bade King Olaf to a banquet, and 
the feast there was full noble, and Grankel saw 
the king off with great gifts. The king prayed 
that Asmund come with him, and laid many words 
thereto. Asmund deemed he might not thrust his 
own honour away from him, so he betook himself 
to the journey with the king, and thereafter became 
his man and came into the greatest good-liking with 
the king. 

King Olaf tarried in Halogaland for the most 
part of the summer, and went into every Thing- 
round, and christened there all the people. In 
those days there dwelt in Birchisle Thorir Hound, 
the mightiest man north there, and he now became 
King Olaf's landed-man. Then many sons of 
mighty bonders betook themselves into King Olaf's 
company out of Halogaland. But when the summer 
wore on, the king came from the north and turned 
inward up Thrandheim unto Nidoyce, and sat there 
through the winter after ; and that winter Thorkel 
Fosterfather came west-away from Orkney whenas 
he had slain Earl Einar Wrongmouth. 

That autumn there was dearth of corn in Thrand- 
heim, but before for a long while had been plenteous 
years ; but now the dearth was over all the North- 
country, and was the greater the further northward 
one was. But east in the land the corn was good, 
and all over the Uplands withal. But this helped 
the Thrandheim folk that they had mickle old corn. 

ex 1 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy. 1 93 


THAT harvest were the tidings told to King 
Olaf from Inner Thrandheim, that the 
bonders there had had thronged feasts at 
Winter-nights, and that there were great drinkings. 
The king was told that all cups there were signed 
to the yEsir after ancient wont. This followed the 
tale withal, that neat were slaughtered there and 
horses, and the stalls reddened with blood, and 
blood-offering was done, with this word set forth, 
that that was for the booting of the year. This 
followed, moreover, that all folk deemed it was 
clearly to be seen, that the gods had gotten wroth 
whereas the Halogalanders had turned to Christ's 
faith. Now, when the king heard these tidings, 
he sent men up into Thrandheim, and summoned 
to him the bonders whom he thought good to 

There was a man named Olvir of Eggja, known 
by the name of the stead whereat he dwelt ; he was 
a mighty man and of high kindred, and was at the 
head of those who went on this journey to the king 
on behalf of the bonders. And when they met the 
king he laid against them these charges. But Olvir 
answered on behalf of the bonders, and said that 
they had had no feasts that autumn, out-taken their 
own gilds, or drinkings turn and turn about ; and 
some but biddings of friends. " But, as to what 
has been told thee," said he, " concerning the ways 
of talk of us Thrandheim folk, when we are a- 
drinking, that wot all wise men to beware of such 
IV. O 

194 T^J^^ Saga Library. CXIV 

talk ; but I may not answer for men foolish and 
men ale-wood, what they may say." 

Olvir was a man deft of speech and bold-spoken, 
and warded all these guilts from off the bonders. 
And at last the king said that the Up-Thrand- 
heimers would bear witness to themselves as to 
how well they stood in their faith. Then the 
bonders got leave to go home again, and forthwith 
when they had arrayed them they departed. 


LATER on in the winter the king was told 
that the Up-Thrandheimers were gathered 
together in multitudes at Mere, and that 
great blood-offerings had been there at midwinter ; 
and that there they had made blood-offerings for 
peace and a good winter season. And when the 
king deemed he knew for sure the truth of this, he 
sent men and messages up into Thrandheim, and 
summoned the bonders down to the town, still 
naming by name such men as he deemed the wisest 
among them. So now the bonders had a parley and 
talked over this message between them ; and they 
were all the least willing to go this journey who had 
fared the winter before. But at the prayer of all the 
bonders Olvir undertook the journey. And when he 
came down to the town, he went straightway to see 
the king, and then fell to talk. The king laid it on 
hand to the bonders that they had had a midwinter 
blood-offerinof. Olvir answered and said that the 

CXV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 195 

bonders were sackless of that guilt. " We had," 
said he, " Yule-biddings and drinking-bouts far and 
wide about the countrysides. The bonders are not 
minded so to pinch them in their cheer for the Yule- 
feast, as that a good deal be not left over ; and this 
it was, lord, that men were a-drinkingof long after. 
At Mere there is a great chief-stead and big houses, 
and mickle dwelling round about, and there folk 
deem it good glee to drink together a many." 

The king answered little, and was rather cross- 
grained, deeming that he wotted that other things 
were truer than that which was now set forth. The 
king bade the bonders go back. ** But yet," says 
he, " I shall get to know the truth, to wit, that ye 
hide the matter and do not face it ; but however 
things have gone hitherto, do no such things 

So the bonders fared home again, and told of 
their journey that it had been noneof the smoothest, 
and that the king was somewhat wroth. 


KING OLAF had a great feast at Easter, 
and had many men of the town bidden 
and many bonders withal. But after 
Easter the king let run out his ships, and bear 
thereto rigging and oars. He let deck the ships, and 
tilt them and bedight them ; he let the ships float 
thus arrayed by the gangways. King Olaf sent men 
into Verdale forthwith after Easter. Now a man 
is named, Thorald,a king's steward; he warded the 

196 The Saga Library. CXV 

king's manor at Howe, and the king sent him word 
to come to him at his speediest. Thorald did not put 
the journey under his head, but went forthwith out 
to the town together with the king's messengers. 
The king called him for a privy talk, and asked after 
it : " What truth is in that which is told me about 
the ways of the Up-Thrandheimers, whether it be 
so that they are turning them to blood-offerings. 
I will," says the king, " that thou tell me things 
as they are, and as thou knowest them most truth- 
fully ; this is thy bounden duty, for thou art my 

Thorald answers : " Lord, this will I tell thee 
first, that I flitted hither to the town my two sons 
and my wife, and of my chattels all that I might 
bring with me ; now if thou wilt have a true story 
of me, that shall be at thy will, but if I tell thee 
things as they are, then must thou look after mine 

The king said : " Tell thou the truth of what I 
ask thee, but I shall so look after thine affairs that 
thou shalt take no hurt." 

Thorald answered : " This is the truth to tell,, 
king, if I am to tell things as they are, that through- 
out Upper Thrandheim wellnigh all the folk are all- 
heathen in their faith, though some men be there 
who are christened. Now it is their wont to have 
a blood-offering in autumn to welcome the winter, 
and another at midwinter, and the third at summer 
for the welcoming of summer. These are the ways 
of the Isle-folk, the Sparebiders, the Verdale-folk, 
and the Skaun-folk. There are twelve men who 
take upon themselves to carry out the blood-feasts ;. 

CXV The story of Olaf the Holy. 197 

and now next spring it is Olvir's turn to uphold the 
feast, and now he is in much ado at Mere, and 
thither have been brought all the goods which are 
needed for the feast." 

Now when the king knew the truth, he let blow 
together his host, and let tell men to go aboard ship. 
The king named captains of ships and leaders of 
companies withal, and the ship on which each com- 
pany should go. The arrayal was speedy; the king 
had five ships and three hundred men, and there- 
with stood up the firth. The wind was fair, and 
the cutters made no long way of it before the wind. 
But no man was ware that the kine would so 
speedily come up thither. 

The king came by night to Mere, and there a 
man-ring was straightway cast about the houses. 
There was Olvir laid hand on, and the king let 
slay him, together with very many other men. The 
king seized all the goods of the feast, and let bring 
them aboard his ships, and all that wealth withal, 
both house-decking and garments and dear-bought 
things, which folk had flitted thither, and let share 
them as war-getting amongst his men. The king 
also let set upon those men in their houses who he 
deemed had the most share in these doings ; some 
of whom were laid hands upon, and laid in irons, 
and othersome got away by running off, but of 
many were their goods seized. 

Then the king summoned a Thing with the 
bonders. And whereas he had by then laid hands 
on many of the mighty men, and had them in his 
power, their kinsmen and friends were minded to 
yeasay obedience to the king ; so that, as at this 

198 The Saga Library. CXVI 

time, there was no uprising against the king in 
Thrandheim. All the folk there he turned to the 
right faith, and set there teachers, and let make 
churches and hallow them. 

The kingf laid down that Olvir was not to be 
atoned for, and laid hand on all the wealth which 
he had owned. But as to other men whom he 
deemed to be the most guilt-bitten, some of them 
he let slay and some maim, othersome he drove 
out of the land, and from others again he took fines. 
Thereafter the king fared back again down to 


A MAN is named, Arni, son of Arnmod. 
He had for wife Thora, the daughter of 
Thorstein Gallows. These were their 
children : Kalf, Finn, Thorberg, Amundi, Kol- 
biorn, Arnbiorn, Arni ; their daughter was Ragn- 
hild, and Harek of Thiotta had her to wife. 
Arni was a landed-man, mighty and well re- 
nowned, a great friend of King Olaf. At this 
time his sons Kalf and Finn were of King Olaf's 
company, and were held there in great honour. 
The woman whom Olvir of Eggja had had to 
wife was young and fair, of high kin and wealthy ; 
she was deemed an exceeding good match, but 
her warding was then in the hands of the king. 
She and Olvir had two sons, both young. Kalf, 
son of Arni, prayed the king to give him in wed- 
lock the wife that Olvir had had, and for the 

ex VI I The Story of Olaf tJie Holy. 1 99 

sake of friendship the king granted him this, 
and therewithal the wealth that Olvir had 

Then the king made him a landed-man, and the 
king gave him his stewardship about Up-Thrand- 
heim. So now Kalf became a great lord, and an 
exceeding wise man was he. 


A ND now had Olaf been for seven winters 
/ V king in Norway. That summer came to 
J^ jL him the Earls of Orkney, Thorfin and 
Brusi. Those lands King Olaf had made his 
own, as is afore writ. That summer King Olaf 
went over either Mere, and in harvest he went 
into Raumsdale, where he went aland from his 
ships, and fared on to the Uplands and came 
forth unto Lesiar. There he let hands be laid on 
all the best men, both about Lesiar and Dofrar, 
and they must needs either take to Christ's faith 
or else suffer death, or flee away if they could 
bring that about ; but they who took to Christ's 
faith gave their sons into King Olaf's hands as 
hostages of their troth. 

The king abode the night over at the place called 
the Steads in Lesiar, and set a priest thereover. 
Then he went across Loradale and came down to 
a place called Staffbrent ; along that valley there 
runs a river called Otta, and fair built it is on 
either side of that river, and is called Loar. And 
the king might see all the dwelt country endlong. 

200 The Saga Library. CXVIII 

" Scathe is it," says the king, " that we needs must 
burn so fair a dwelling." 

Therewith he made his way with his com- 
pany down into the dale, and took night quar- 
ters at a homestead hight Ness ; and there the 
kine chose his chamber in a certain loft, where he 
slept himself, which stands yet to-day, and nought 
hath been done to it since. There the king 
tarried for five nights, and sheared up a Thing- 
bidding, summoning to him both the folk of Vagi, 
and of Loar, and of Hedale, and let the message 
go with the summons that they should either fight 
with him and abide fire at his hands, or take 
christening and bring him their sons for hostages. 
So they came to the king and gave themselves up 
to him ; but some fled south to the Dales. 


THERE was a man hight Gudbrand a- 
Dales, who was as a king over the Dales, 
though he were but hersir by title. Sigvat 
the Skald accounted him as even with Erling 
Skialeson for mieht and wide lands. And thus 
Sigvat sang about ErHng : 

One other Jalk-board's waster 
Have I wotted like unto thee, 
Herder of men, hight Gudbrand ; 
Wide over lands he ruled. 

loather of the worm's land, 

1 call ye twain deemed even. 
That bower of snake-seat lieth 
Who deems himself the mightier. 

CXVIII The story of Olaf the Holy. 201 

Gudbrand had one son who is here told of. 

Now when Gudbrand heard of these tidings, 
that King Olaf had come to Loar, and drave men 
against their will to take christening, he sheared 
up the war-arrow and summoned all the Dale-folk 
to the stead which is called Houndthorp to meet 
him there. Thither they all came, and a countless 
host was there, whereas anigh thereto is the water 
called the Low, so that folk could come together 
by ship as well as by land. So Gudbrand had a 
Thing with them, and said that into Loar was 
come a man hight Olaf, " who will bid us another 
faith than that which we have already, and will 
break asunder all our gods, and sayeth that he 
hath a god much greater and mightier. It is a 
marvel that the earth doth not burst asunder 
under him whereas he dareth to say such things, 
and that our gods suffer him to walk about any 
longer. And meseemeth, if we bear Thor out of 
our gods'-house when he standeth here at this 
homestead, and he hath ever been our avail, that 
when he seeth Olaf and his men then will his god 
melt away, and he and his men come to nought." 

Thereat they lifted a whoop all together, and 
said that Olaf should never come away thence, if 
he came to meet them. " And he will not dare," 
they say, "to go farther south through the Dales." 

Then they set apart seven hundred men to go 
a-spying north to Broad ; and the leader of that 
company was the son of Gudbrand, then eighteen 
winters old, and many renowned men with him, 
and they came to the stead which is hight Hof, 
where they tarried three nights, and where many 

202 The Saga Library. CXVIII 

folk flocked to them, such as had fled from Lesi'ar 
and Loar and Vagi, they, to wit, who would not 
go under christening. 

But King Olaf and Bishop Sigurd set up clerks 
behind them in Loar and Vagi. Thereupon they 
crossed the Vagi-roost and came down to Sil, and 
were there for the night, and learnt the tidings 
that a great host was there before them. Thereof 
withal heard the bonders who were at the Broad, 
and arrayed them for a battle with the king. And 
so when the king- was arisen he did on his war- 
gear and went south along the Sil-walls, and 
stayed him not till he was within the Broad, and 
saw there a great host before him arrayed for 
battle. Then the king arrayed his folk, and rode 
himself at their head, and cast word at the bonders 
and bade them to take christening. 

They answered : " To-day thou wilt have to be 
about something else than mocking us." And 
therewithal they whooped the war-whoop and 
smote their weapons on their shields. Thereat 
the king's men leapt forward and shot their 
spears ; and forthwith the bonders turned to flight, 
so that but few men held their ground. The son 
of Gudbrand was laid hand on, and the king gave 
him peace and kept him with him. The king 
tarried there four nights. 

Then spake the king to the son of Gudbrand : 
*' Go thou now back to thy father, and tell him 
that speedily shall I come thither." So he went 
home again and tells his father hard tidings, how 
they had met with the king and fallen to a fight 
with him ; " but all our host broke into flight 

CXVIII The story of Olaf the Holy. 203 

forthwith at the first ; but I was laid hands upon," 
says he, " and the king gave me my Hfe, and bade 
me go tell thee that he cometh hither speedily. 
Now we have no more here than two hundred of 
all that host which we then had to meet him 
withal ; therefore, I counsel thee, father, not to 
fight with that man." " That is easily heard," says 
Cfudbrand, " that all the pith hath been knocked 
out of thee ; on an evil day thou wentest away 
from home, and for a long while will that journey 
be told against thee ; for thou trowest already 
that madness wherewith that man goeth about, 
and who hath done a right evil shame to thee and 
to thy company." 

But in the night after, Gudbrand dreamed that 
a man came to him bright-shining, and great awe 
there went out from him, and he spake to Gud- 
brand : " No journey of victory was it that thy 
son went on against King Olaf, but much less 
wilt thou have, if thou art minded to give battle 
to the king ; for thou wilt fall thyself and all thy 
company, and wolves will drag thee, and all of 
you, and ravens will tear you." 

At this terror he was exceeding adread, and 
telleth it to Thord Bigbelly, who was a lord over 
the Dales. He answers and says : " The self- 
same thing came before me," says he. 

But on the morrow's morn they let blow for a 
Thing, and said that they deemed it good rede to 
have a parley with the man who came from the 
north with a new word of bidding, and to wot 
with what truth he fareth. 

Then spake Gudbrand to his son: "Now thou 

204 The Saga Library. CXVIII 

shalt go, and twelve men with thee, to see the 
king that gave thee thy Ufe." And so it was done. 
And to the meeting of the king they came and 
told him their errand, that the bonders would have 
a Thing with him, and make truce between the 
king and the bonders. The king was well enough 
pleased at this, and they settled this with him on 
their word of honour, as long as the meeting 
should last. And this done, they went back 
and told Gudbrand and Thord that truce was 

Then fared the kinof to the stead which was 
called Lidstead, and tarried there for five nights ; 
whereupon he fared to meet the bonders and held 
a Thing with them ; but much wet was there day- 

So soon as the Thing was set, the king stood 
up and said that the folk of Lesiar and of Loar 
and of Vaofi had been christened and had broken 
•down their houses of blood-offerings, and now 
believe in the true God who shaped Heaven and 
Earth, and who knoweth all things. 

Thereupon the king sat down, and Gudbrand 
answers : " We know not of whom thou art speak- 
ing ; thou callest him a god whom neither thou 
seest nor any other man. But we have a god 
who can be seen every day, but who is not abroad 
to-day because the weather is wet ; and awful will 
he seem to you and mighty enough to look on ; 
and I ween if he come to the Thing that fear will 
shoot through the breasts of you. But inasmuch 
as thou sayest that thy God is so mighty, then let 
him do so much as that to-morrow the weather be 

CXVIII The story of Olaf the Holy. 205 
cloudy but no rain, and then we shall meet here 


Thereafter the king went home to his chamber, 
and with him went the son of Gudbrand in 
hostage ; but the king gave them another man in 
his stead. 

In the evening the king asked the son of Gud- 
brand what like their god was made. He says, 
that he was marked after the likeness of Thor, and 
had a hammer in his hand ; great of growth and 
hollow within ; under him there is it done as 
it were a stall, and thereon he stands when he is 
without doors ; on him there is no lack of gold 
and silver ; four loaves of bread are brought to 
him every day, and flesh-meat withal. 

Thereafter they went to bed, but the king 
waked all the night through, and was at his 
prayers. But when it was day again the king 
went to mass, and then to meat, and thereafter to 
the Thing. 

But the weather had gone even so as Gudbrand 
had bespoken. Then stood the bishop up in his 
choir-cope, with a mitre on his head and a staff in 
his hand, and set forth the faith to the bonders, 
and told them many tokens which God had done ; 
and made goodly end of his speech. 

Then answers Thord Bigbelly : " Much sayeth 
he, the horned one yonder, who hath a staff in hand, 
the upper end whereof is crooked after the fashion 
of a wether's horn. Now, inasmuch as thou,, 
fellow, claimest that thy God doeth so many mar- 
vellous things, then say thou to him to-morrow 
before the sun rises, that he let it be clear and 

2o6 The Saga Library. CXIX 

sunshine ; then let us meet and do one of two 
things, either be of one mind on this matter, or 
give battle." And so for that time they parted. 


THERE was with King Olaf a man hight 
Kolbein the Strong, a man of Firth-folk 
kin. He was always so arrayed that he was 
girt with a sword, and had in his hand a great stake 
of wood which some men call a club. The king 
said to Kolbein that he should stand next to him in 
the morning. Thereafter he spake to his men : 
" Go ye this night to where the ships of the bonders 
.are and bore holes in them all, and ride ye their 
yoke-beasts away from the homesteads whereas 
they are abiding." And so was it done. All 
that night the king was at his prayers, and prayed 
God to loosen this trouble by his grace and 

But when Hours were done, towards the dawn 
of day he went to the Thing. And when he 
came to the Thing, there were come some of the 
bonders ; and therewith they saw a great throng 
of bonders faring to the Thing, bearing between 
.them a mickle man-shape, all gleaming with 
^old and silver. Now when the bonders who 
were at the Thing already saw this, they all leapt 
up and bowed to the monster ; and sithence 
was he placed in the midst of the Thing-mead. 
On one side sat the bonders, on the other the king 
and his company. 

ex IX The story of Olaf tJie Holy. 207 

Then Gudbrand a- Dales stood up and spake : 
*' Where is now thy God, king ? I am minded to 
think now that somewhat low he beareth his chin- 
beard ; and it seemeth to me that less now is 
the swagger of thee and of the horned one yonder 
whom thou callest a bishop, and that sitteth there 
beside thee, than yesterday it was ; for that now 
our god is come, he who ruleth all things, and 
looketh on you with keen eyes, and I see, that now 
ye are full of fear, and scarce dare to lift up your 
eyes. Now, drop your folly, and trow in our god 
who hath all your ways in his hand." And thus he 
closed his speech. 

The king spake to Kolbein the Strong, without 
the bonders wotting thereof : " If so it befall, the 
while of my speech, that they look away from their 
god, then give him that stroke, the most that thou 
mayst, with thy club." 

Then the king stood up and said : ** Many 
things hast thou said to us this morning ; thou 
deemest it a wonder that thou mayest not see our 
God, but we hope he will soon come to us. Thou 
threatenest us with thy god, who is blind and deaf, 
and may neither help himself nor others, and may 
get him nowhither away from his place, save he 
be borne ; and now I look for it that he will be but 
a little way from ill. Lo ! look ye now and gaze 
eastward, there now fareth our God with a great 


Then ran up the sun and all the bonders looked 
towards him. And in that same nick of time laid 
on Kolbein so well on their god, that it burst 
all asunder, 'and out of it leapt mice as big as cats, 

2o8 The Saga Library. CXIX 

and adders and worms. But the bonders were so 
afeard, that they fled away, some to the ships, but 
whenas they ran out their craft, the water rushed 
in and filled them, so they might not go a-board 
them. But they that ran to the yoke-beasts found 
them nowhere. 

Thereafter the king let call the bonders, saying 
that he wished to have a talk with them, and 
thereat they turned back and held a Thing. 
Thereon stood up the king and spake : " I know 
not," says he, " what betokeneth this hubbub and 
running about which ye are making ; but now ye 
may see what might your god hath, on whom ye 
laid gold and silver, meat and victuals ; and e'en 
now ye saw who the wights were that enjoyed 
this, mice, to wit, worms, adders, and paddocks ; and 
in a sorry case are they, who trow in such things, 
and will not forsake their folly. Now take ye 
back your gold and precious things which are 
scattered here over the mead, and give them to 
your wives, but no more bedeck therewith stocks 
and stones. But now two choices lie between you 
and me : either that ye take christening now and 
here, or else give me battle now to-day, and let 
him this day bear the victory from the other, unto 
whom that God willeth it, in whom we trow." 

Then stood up Gudbrand a- Dales and said : 
*' Mickle scathe have we now fared about our god ; 
and yet, seeing that he had not the might to help 
us, we will now trow in the God in whom thou 
trowest." And they all took Christ's faith ; and the 
bishop christened Gudbrand and his son. King 
Olaf and Bishop Sigurd left teachers there behind 

CXX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 209 

them ; and as friends they parted who before were 
unfriends, and Gudbrand let make a church there 
in the Dales. 

y 7- ING OLAF fared thereafter down to 

1^ Heathmark and christened folk there ; 

I ^V for whereas he had laid hands on the 
kings there, he did not venture to go far afield 
over the country with litde folk, after such a mighty 
deed, whereas Heathmark was nought widely 
christened. But in this journey the king did not 
hold his hand till all Heathmark was christened, 
and churches were hallowed and teachers appointed 
thereto. Then he fared down to Thotn and 
Hathaland, and there righted the faith of the folk, 
and left it so that there was all-christened. Thence 
he fared into Ringrealm, and there all folk were 
christened. Thereafter heard the Raumrealm folk 
that King Olaf got ready for a journey up thither, 
and called out a mickle gathering, and said amongst 
themselves that it was ever in their minds con- 
cerning that progress when Olaf fared afore over 
the land, and said that never again should he so 
fare thereover. But the king arrayed himself for 
the journey none the less. 

But when King Olaf fared up into Raumrealm 
with his host, a gathering of bonders came against 
him at the river called Nitia, and a whole host 
had the bonders. But when they met, the bonders 
fell to batde forthwith, but speedily it grew too hot 

TV. P 

2IO The Saga Library. CXX 

for them, and aback they shrunk forthwith, and 
were beat to their bettering, for they all took 
christening then and there. 

The king fared over that folkland, and did not 
depart therefrom till all men had taken to Christ's 

Thence he went east to Sol-isles, and christened 
that dwelling. 

There came to him the skald Ottar the Swart, 
and prayed to go under the hand of King Olaf. 
The winter before Olaf the Swede-king had died, 
and now was Onund, son of Olaf, king in Sweden. 

Thence King Olaf turned back to Raumrealm, 
and by that time the winter was all but passed. 
Then King Olaf summoned together a thronged 
Thing in the place where ever since the Heidssevis 
Thing has been holden ; and he set up the law 
that to this Thing all Uplanders should seek, and 
that the law of Heidsaevi should prevail throughout 
all the folks of the Uplands, and as far afield else- 
where as they have done since. 

But when it was spring he made down towards 
the sea, and let array his ships, and went in the 
spring down to Tunsberg, and sat there through 
the spring, when it was most thronged there, and 
ladings were being brought to the town from other 
countries. The year's increase was good as then 
all about the Wick, and likewise of good avail all 
the way north to Stad ; but to the north thereof 
there was mickle dearth. 

C X X I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 2 1 1 


IN the spring King Olaf sent word west 
through Agdir, and all the way north through 
Rogaland and through Hordland, that he 
would have neither corn nor malt nor meal brought 
away thence, nor sold ; and let this go therewith, 
that he would be coming thither with his company, 
and would be faring about feasting according to 
old custom. Now this message went throughout 
all these folklands. But the king tarried in the 
Wick through the summer, and went all the way 
east to the land's end. 

Einar Thambarskelfir had been with Olaf the 
Swede-kine all the time since the death of Earl 
Svein, his brother-in-law, and had become Olaf 
the Swede-king's man, and got great grants from 
him. But when the king was dead, Einar yearned 
to seek him peace with King Olaf the Thick, and 
to that end messages had gone between them in 
the spring. But whenas King Olaf was lying in 
the Elf, Einar Thrambarskelfir came there with 
certain men, and he and the king talked over their 
peace-making, and it was settled between them 
that Einar should go north to Thrandheim, and 
have all his lands, and also those estates that had 
gone to Bergliot's dowry. So Einar went on his 
way to the north, but the king tarried in the Wick, 
and was for a long time at Burg through the 
harvest and the first part of the winter. 

2 1 2 The Saga Library. C X X 1 1 


E^ RLING SKIALGSON held his dominion 
\ suchwise, that all the way from the north 
_^ from Sogn Sea and east to Lidandisness 
he had his will in all things with the bonders, but 
of kingly grants he had much less than before. 
Then people stood in such awe of him that no 
one put his lot into another scale than he willed. 
The king deemed that the mastery of Erling was 

A man was hight Aslak Skull o' Fitjar, a man 
of high kin and mighty. Skialg, the father of 
Erling, and Askel, the father of Aslak, were 
brothers' sons. Aslak was a great friend of King 
Olaf, and the king set him down in South Hord- 
land, and gave him there a large fief and great 
grants, and the king bade him hold his own to the 
full against Erling. But nought was it that wise 
so soon as the king was no longer anigh ; for 
Erling must have it all his way between them, 
according to his will alone, and nowise meeker 
did he show himself, though Aslak would draw up 
with him. So fared their dealings that Aslak 
might not hold it out in his bailiffry ; so he fared 
to see King Olaf, and told him of his dealings 
with Erling. The king bade Aslak be with hirn, 
"until I and Erling shall meet." 

Then the king sent word to Erling that he 
should come to Tunsberg in the spring to meet 
him. And when they met, they had parleys 
together, and the king said : " So it is told me of 

CXXII The story of Olaf the Holy. 213 

thy dominion, Erling, that there is no man from 
the north downward from Sogn Sea unto Lidan- 
disness who may hold his freedom for thee ; yet 
many men are there who deem them odal-born to 
even rights with men of Hke birth with themselves. 
Lo here is now Aslak, thy kinsman, who deemeth 
that he verily hath enough and to spare of thy 
cold shoulder in your dealings. Now I know not 
which of the two it may be, whether he hath any 
guilt thereto, or whether he must needs pay for my 
having appointed him to look after my affairs there. 
And though I name him herein, yet many others 
bewail themselves in like wise before me, both 
those who sit in bailiffries, and stewards withal, who 
look after our manors, and who have to array manor- 
feasts for us and our company." 

Erling says: " Speedily shall I answer this, that 
I naysay that I wyted with guilt either Aslak or 
any other man because they be in thy service ; but 
this shall I yeasay, that it is now as it has long 
been, that each one of us kinsmen will be greater 
than the other. This other thing shall I yeasay to 
thee : I bow the neck of a good will to thee. King 
Olaf; but this shall I deem a troublous matter, to 
lout before Seal-Thorir, who is thrall-born through 
all his kin, although he be now thy steward, or to 
bow to other such as are his peers of kindred, 
although thou lay honour on them." 

Then the friends of both sides took up the 
speech, praying that they should come to peace ; 
they said that in no man could the king have such 
strengthening as in Erling, *' if he may be thy 
full friend." On the other hand, they said to 

214 The Saga Library. C X X 1 1 1 

Erling that he should be yielding with the king, 
saying that if he hold him in friendship with the 
king, then it would be an easy matter for him to 
bring about whatso he would with any other man. 
So ended this parley, that Erling was to have 
the same grants as he had had before, and all 
charges which the king had against Erling came 
to nought. Moreover, Skialg, the son of Erling, 
should go to the king and be with him. Then 
Aslak went back to his manors, and they were at 
peace, so to say. Erling also went home to his 
manors, and held to his wont as to his masterful- 


THERE was a man hight Sigurd, son of 
Thorir, and brother to Thorir Hound of 
Birchisle. Sigurd had to wife Sigrid, the 
daughter of Skialg, and sister to Erling. Their 
son was Asbiorn, who was deemed to have in him 
much of the makings of a man when he was grow- 
ing up. Sigurd abode at Thrandness in Omt, and 
was a man of mighty wealth, a man of mickle 
worship ; he had not done homage to the king, 
and Thorir was the more accounted of of the 
brothers in that he was the king's landed-man. 
But at home at his house Sigurd was in no way a 
man of lesser state. While heathendom was, he was 
wont to have three blood-offerings every year, one 
at winter-nights, another at midwinter, the third 
against summer. And when he took christening, 

C X X 1 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy. 2 1 5 

he held to the same wont in the matter of the 
feasts. In autumn, then, he had mickle bidding 
of friends, and in winter a Yule-bidding, and bade 
yet again many men to him ; and a third feast he 
had at Easter, and had then also a multitude. 
And to this wont he held as long as he lived. 
Siofurd died of sickness. Then was Asbiorn of 
eig-hteen winters. He took the heritag-e after his 
father ; and he too held to the old wont, and had 
three feasts every year, even as his father had had. 
Now it was but a short while after Asbiorn took 
the heritage of his father, that the year's increase 
took to worsening, and the sowings of folk failed. 
But Asbiorn held to the same wont as to his feasts, 
and in good stead it stood him then, that there was 
old corn and other old stores that were needed. 
But when this season wore and the next came 
round, the corn was no whit better than it had 
been afore. Then would Sigrid have the feasts 
done away with, some or all of them. But this 
Asbiorn would not have ; so in harvest-time he 
went to see his friends, and bought corn whereso 
he might, and got it as gift from some. And so 
it came to pass that year, that he upheld all his 
feasts. But the next spring but little sowing was 
to be got done, for no one could buy any seed- 
corn. Wherefore Sigrid counselled that the house- 
carles should be minished ; but this Asbiorn 
would not, and in all matters he kept to the same 
wont as before. That summer the corn looked 
like to be scarce, and on the top of that came the 
tale told from the south of the land, that King 
Olaf banned the flitting of corn and malt and meal 

2 1 6 The Saga Library. C X X 1 1 1 

from the south up into the North-country. Then 
Asbiorn deemed that the gathering in of house- 
hold stuff was growing a troublous matter. So 
then that was his rede, that he let run out a ship of 
burden which he owned, a ship seaworthy for the 
main as for its growth. The ship was good, and 
all its rigging was of the very best, and there went 
with it a sail striped with a bend. 

Asbiorn fell to his journey, and twenty men 
with him. They fared away from the north in 
the summer-tide, and of their journey nought is told 
until they hove into Kormtsound at eve of day and 
lay to at Ogvaldsness. A great stead there stands 
a little way up on the island of Kormt, and is 
called Ogvaldsness ; a king's manor it was, a noble 
stead, and the steward thereof was Thorir Seal ; 
he was the steward of the king there. Thorir was 
a man of small kin, but had been well brought up ; 
he was a good craftsman, deft of speech, showy of 
array, froward and stubborn, and all this stood him 
in stead after he had gotten him the backing of the 
king. Swift he was of speech, and ready thereto. 

Asbiorn, he and his, lay here over-night ; but in 
the morning, when it was full daylight, Thorir 
went down to the ship and certain men with him. 
He asked who was the master of that brave 
craft, and Asbiorn told of himself, and named 
his father. Thorir speers what was the furthest 
he was minded to go, and what was his errand. 
Asbiorn says he will buy him corn and malt ; and 
says, as sooth was, that mickle dearth there was 
north in the land : " But it is told us that good is 
the season here. So wilt thou, goodman, sell us 


CXXIII The story of Olaf the Holy. 217 

some corn ? I see that here be big ricks, and an 
easement it were to us if we need go no further 
afield." Thorir answers : " I shall do thee the 
easement that thou needest not fare any further 
corn-cheaping, or wider about Rogaland. I can 
tell thee this, that thou mayst well turn back 
hence and fare no further ; whereas thou wilt get 
no corn here nor otherwhere ; for the king banneth 
the selling of corn hence into the North-land. So 
fare thou back, Halogalander ; that will be best for 

Asbiorn answers : " If it be so as thou sayest, 
goodman, that we shall get here no corn-cheaping, 
then my errand will be nought less than to go kin- 
seeking to Soli, and see the abode of my kinsman 

Thorir answers : '* How mickle kinship hast 
thou with Erling ? " He answers : " My mother 
is his sister." Thorir says : " Maybe then that I 
have not spoken warily, if thou art the sister's son 
of the King of the Rogalanders." Then Asbiorn 
and his men cast off the tilt, and turned the ship 
seaward. Thorir called after them, and said : 
*' Fare ye now well, and come here as ye fare 
back." Asbiorn says that so it should be. 

So they fare on their journey and come to the 
Jadar one day at eve ; fared Asbiorn up aland 
with ten men, and ten gave heed to the ship. So 
when Asbiorn came to the stead he got there a 
good welcome, and Erling was as merry as might 
be to him. Erling seated him next to himself, 
and asked many tidings from the North-country. 
Asbiorn told him of his errands all clearly. Erling 

2 1 8 The Saga L ibrary. C X X 1 1 1 

answered, that it had not well befallen them, that 
the king had banned the selling of corn. " I know 
no men hereabouts," says he, " of whom it may be 
hoped that they will dare to break the word of the 
king ; and I have trouble enough in heeding the 
king's temper, for there be many who try to undo 
our friendship." 

Asbiorn says : " Late may truth be learned ; in 
my youth I was taught that my mother was free- 
born on every half, and this, moreover, that Erling 
of Soli was now the noblest of all her kindred ; but 
now I hear thee say that thou hast not so much 
freedom for the king's thralls on Jadar here, as that 
thou mayest do with thy corn whatso pleaseth 

Erling looked on him, and grinned till his teeth 
showed, and said : " Less wot ye Halogalanders of 
the king's might than we Rogalanders ; but rash of 
word thou wilt be at home, and no long descent 
hast thou to tell up hereunto. Drink we now 
first, kinsman ; let us see to-morrow how thine 
errand shall speed." 

So did they, and were merry that night. Next 
day they talk together, Erling and Asbiorn, and 
Erling said : " I have somewhat thought over thy 
corn-cheaping, Asbiorn. Now, how hard to please 
wilt thou be about thy sellers ?" He said he cared 
never a whit from whom he bought the corn if it 
were fairly sold him. Said Erling : "It seemeth 
to me most like that my thralls own so much corn 
as that thou wilt have a full cheaping ; and they 
be not within laws or lands-right with other men." 

Asbiorn says he will take this. Then the thralls 

CXXIII The story of Olaf the Holy. 219 

were told about the bargain, and they gave forth 
corn and malt, and sold it to Asbiorn, who loaded 
his ship even as he would. And when he was 
ready to go away Erling saw him off with friendly 
gifts, and in love they parted. 

Asbiorn had a good wind at will, and hove into 
Kormtsound and lay to off Ogvaldsness in the 
evening, and there they tarried for the night. 

Now Thorir Seal had already tidings of the 
journey of Asbiorn ; of this withal, that his ship was 
deep-laden. Thorir summoned folk to him in the 
night-tide ; so that before day he had over sixty 
men, and went to meet Asbiorn in the first of the 
dawn. They fared straightway aboard the ship. 
Asbiorn and his were clad by then, and Asbiorn 
ofreeted Thorir. Thorir asked w^hat sort of ladino- 
Asbiorn had on board ship ; he said that corn and 
malt it was. Thorir says : " Then will Erling be 
at his old wont, to take for fooling all words of the 
king. Forsooth, he wearieth not of that, to withstand 
him in all wise ; and a marvel it is that the king 
letteth him have his way in all." 

Thorir was mad of speech for a while. But 
when he held his peace Asbiorn said that this 
corn had been owned by Erling's thralls. Thorir 
answered snappishly that he heeded no whit any 
tricks of Erling and his folk. " But it is either this 
or that, Asbiorn, either ye go aland, or we put you 
all out-board, for we will not have you thronging 
us while we are clearing out the ship." 

Asbiorn saw that he had no strength of men 
against Thorir, and he and his men went up aland, 
and Thorir let clear all the lading out of the ship. 

220 The Saga Library. CXXIII 

But when the ship was cleared, Thorir walked 
along it and said : " A mighty good sail have these 
Halogalanders ; go ye, fetch that old sail of my 
ship of burden and give it to them ; it is quite good 
enough for them, whereas they be sailing with a 
loose keel." And so it was done that the sails were 

In this plight Asbiorn with his men went their 
ways and made for the north along the land, and 
ietted not till he came home early in winter ; and 
great was the fame of that journey. 

So now all the toil of feast-dighting was taken 
off Asbiorn's shoulders for that winter. Thorir 
Hound bade Asbiorn to a Yule- feast and his 
mother, and such of their men as they would take 
with them. Asbiorn had no will to go, and sat at 
home. That was found, that Thorir deemed that 
Asbiorn had dealt uncourteously with the bidding 
in that he would not go. So Thorir jeered about 
Asbiorn's journey. Says he : " There is both great 
diversity of honour between us, the kinsmen of 
Asbiorn, and he moreover so maketh it, such toil as 
he was at last summer to go and seek out a meeting 
with Erling all the way to Jadar, but now will not 
fare here to me unto the next house. I wot not 
but he may deem that Seal-Thorir is waylaying 
him in every holm." 

Such words heard Asbiorn of Thorir and other 
suchlike. Asbiorn was mightily ill content wath 
his journey ; all the worse when he heard it held at 
such laughter and mocking. So this winter he 
abode at home, and went nowhither to any 

CXXIV The story of Olaf the Holy. 221 


ASBIORN had a longship, a twenty-benched 
cutter which stood in a great boat-house. 
After Candlemas Asbiorn let the ship be 
launched, and its gear borne down thereto, and let 
array the ship. Then he summoned to him his 
friends, and had wellnigh ninety men, all well 
weaponed. But when he was ready and a wind at 
will befell, he sailed south along the land ; and 
they fare on their ways, going somewhat slow. But 
when they got south along the land, they kept to 
the outer road rather than the highway, when they 
might. Nought is told of their faring till they 
hove in to Kormt from the west in the evening of 
the fifth day after Easter. But the land goes such- 
wise there, that it is a great isle, and long, and for 
the most part nought broad, and lies on the high- 
way on the western side thereof. There is mickle 
dwelling, but on the side that turneth towards 
the main sea the island is widely undwelt. Asbiorn 
and his men landed on the western side of the 
island, where it was undwelt. And when they had 
tilted them, Asbiorn said : "Now shall ye be left 
here behind and abide me, but I shall go into the 
island to spy what is toward, for we have heard no 
tidings as yet." Asbiorn had but evil raiment, and 
a slouch-hat ; he had a fork in hand, and was girt 
with a sword under his garment. He went up a- 
land and across the island. And as he came upon 
a certain heath whence he might look on the stead 
of Ogvaldsness and further out over Kormtsound, 

222 The Saga Library. CXXIV 

he saw mickle faring of men both by sea and by 
land, and all those crowds were making for the 
homestead of Ogvaldsness. He deemed this 
wondrous. So he went home to the stead, and 
there whereas serving-men were dighting meat. 
And straightway he heard and understood from 
their talk that King Olaf had come there to a 
feast, and this withal, that the king had gone to 
table. So Asbiorn turned to the hall. And as 
he came into the porch one man went out and 
another in, and no man gave any heed to hirn. 
The hall-door was open, and he saw that Thorir 
Seal stood before the board of the high-seat. By 
now the evening was far spent. Asbiorn hearkened 
and heard how men were asking Thorir about his 
dealings with Asbiorn, and also that Thorir told a 
a long story thereof, and Asbiorn deemed he 
-clearly told an unfair tale. Then he heard how a 
man said : "How did Asbiorn take it when ye 
were clearing the ship ? " Thorir says : " He bore 
up in a way, but not right well, while we were a- 
clearing the ship, but when we took the sail from 
him he wept." But when Asbiorn heard this, he 
drew his sword hard and swift, and sprang into 
the hall and straightway hewed at Thorir, and the 
stroke came on the outward of his neck and the 
head fell on the board before the king, but the 
trunk on his feet, and the table-cloths were all 
bloody up and down. The king spake and bade 
take him and lead him out, and even so it was 
done, and Asbiorn was laid hands on and led out 
of the hall. But the table-array and the cloths 
were taken and brought away, and Thorir's body 

CXX V Tlie Story of Olaf the Holy. 223 

was carried off withal, and all was cleansed on 
which blood had fallen. The king was mighty 
wroth, yet kept his words well in, as his wont ever 


SKIALG ERLINGSON stood up and went 
before the king, and spoke thus : " Now 
it will be, as oft before, king, that one must 
look to thee for making good what has fallen amiss. 
I will offer money for this man that he may hold 
his life and limbs ; but thou, king, shape ye and 
shear all the rest." 

The king says : " Is it not a guilt unto death, 
Skialg, if a man break the Easter-peace ^. And is 
it not another, that he slew a man within the king's 
hall ; and the third one, which thou and thy father 
will deem of little account, that he had my feet for 
hewing-block 1 " 

Skialg answers : " 111 it is, king, that it misliketh 
thee ; for otherwise had the work been done at the 
best. But, king, if thou take this deed amiss 
and deem it a great matter, yet I have hope 
that I shall have of thee something great for my 
service, and many will say, that thou mayest well 
so do." 

The king answers : " However much thou be 
worth, Skialg, I shall not for thy sake break the 
law or cast down kingly honour." 

Then Skialg turned away and went out of the 
hall. With Skialg there had been twelve men, 

224 ^^^ Saga Library. CXXV 

and they all followed him, and many others went 
away with him. 

Skialg spoke to Thorarin Nefiolfson : "If thou 
wilt have my friendship, then lay thine whole mind 
hereto, that the man be not slain before Sunday." 

Thereupon fared Skialg and his men, and took 
a rowing-cutter which he owned, and rowed south 
as hard as they might make it, and came at the 
kindling of day to Jadar, and went straightway up 
to the stead and into the loft wherein slept Erling. 
Skialg ran against the door so that it broke off the 
nails, whereat awoke Erling and those others who 
were there within. He was the quickest on foot, 
and caught up his shield and sword, and sprang to 
the door and asked who fared so fiercely. Skialg 
named himself and bade open the door. Erling 
says : "That was likeliest, that thou wouldst be the 
man, if a fool were astir ; or fare any men after 
thee ? " 

Then the door was opened, and Skialg said : 
• ' This I ween, that though thou think that I am faring 
madly, Asbiorn thy kinsman deems that I fare 
none too speedily, now that he sits in fetters north 
at Ogvaldsness ; and that were manlier to fare now 
and avail him." Then father and son had a talk 
together, and Skialg told Erling all the tidings at 
the slaying of Seal-Thorir. 

CXXVI The Story of Ola f the Holy. 225 


KING OLAF sat him down in his seat 
when things had been put straight in the 
hall, and exceeding wroth he was. He 
asked what were the tidings of the slayer. He 
was told that he was out in the porch, and was 
watched there. The king says : " Why is he not 
slain ? " Answers Thorarin Nefiolfson : " Lord, 
callest thou not that a deed of murder, to slay men 
by night ? " 

Then said the king : " Put him in fetters and 
slay him the morrow's morn." 

Then was Asbiorn fettered and locked up in a 
house through the night. Next day the king 
hearkened matins, and then went to council, where 
he sat till high mass. Then he went to the mass, 
and when he came from the service he spoke to 
Thorarin : '* Will the sun perchance be high 
enough now, so that Asbiorn thy friend may 
hangr ? " 

Thorarin answered and louted to the king : 
" Lord, that said the bishop last Friday, that the 
king, who hath might over all, both bore with them 
that grieved his heart, and blest is he who may 
rather liken himself to him, than to them who then 
doomed the Man to death, or them who had his 
death fulfilled. Now it is no long while to wait 
for the morrow, and that is a working day." 

The king looked around at him, and said : 
'* Thou shalt have thy will herein, that he shall 
not be slain to-day. So now shalt thou take him 

TV. O 

226 The Saga Library, CXXVI 

to thyself and guard him ; and know this for sure, 
that thereon Hes thy Hfe if he get away, no matter 

Thereupon the king went his ways, and Thora- 
rin thither where Asbiorn sat in irons. Then 
Thorarin did off him the fetters, and brought him 
into a certain Httle chamber, and let fetch him 
meat and drink, and told him what the king had 
laid upon himself in case Asbiorn should run 
away. Asbiorn says that Thorarin had no need 
to fear of that. So Thorarin sat with him long 
through that day, and slept there the next night 

On the Saturday the king arose and went to 
matins, and then he went to the council, and a 
multitude of bonders was come there, and they 
had many plaints to set forth. There the king 
sat for a long while of the day, and went some- 
what late to the high mass ; whereupon he went 
to meat, and when he had partaken thereof he 
drank for a while with the tables still standing. 

Now Thorarin went to the priest who looked 
after the church, and gave him two ounces of 
silver to ring in the holy-tide so soon as the 
king's tables were taken up. Now when the king 
had drunk for as long as he deemed seemly, then 
was the board taken up. Then spoke the king, 
saying that now it was meet that the thralls should 
take the manslayer and slay him. But at that 
nick of time the holy tide was rung in. 

So Thorarin went before the king, and said : 
" That man will belike have respite the holy-day 
over, though he have done evil." 

CXXVI I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 227 

The king says : " Heed him, Thorarin, that he 
may not get away." 

So the king went to church to nones, and Tho- 
rarin sat still that day with Asbiorn. On the 
Sunday the bishop went to Asbiorn and shrived 
him, and gave him leave to go and hearken high 
mass. Then Thorarin went to the king, and bade 
him get men to guard the manslayer. " I will 
now," says he, " be quit of his matter." The king 
bade him have thanks for what he had done, and 
got men to guard Asbiorn, and then he was put 
into fetters. But when folk went to high mass, 
Asbiorn was led to the church, and outside the 
church he stood, together with those who warded 
him. The king and all the people stood at the 


Ny OW must we take up the tale whereas 
afore we turned from it, that Erling and 
\ Skialg his son took counsel together on 
this troublous matter, and through the whetting 
of Skialg and other of the sons of Erling it was 
settled to gather an host together and to shear up 
the war-arrow. And soon there came together a 
great company and went aboard ship, and when 
the score of the tale of the folk was told, there 
were wellnigh fifteen hundred men. With this 
company they fared, and came on Sunday to 
Ogvaldsness in Kormt, and went with all the host 
up to the stead, and came there at the time when 

228 The Saga Library. CXXVII 

the gospel was done ; they went forthwith up to 
the church and took Asbiorn, and broke the fetters 
away from him. 

But at this din and crash of weapons rushed all 
into the church who had erst stood without ; but 
they who were in the church looked all out, save 
the king alone, who stood and looked not about, 
Erling and his sons arrayed their host on either side 
of the street that led from the church to the 
hall ; and Erling and his sons stood next to the 

Now, when all the hours had been sung, then 
straightway the king went forth out of the church ; 
he went forth the first into the fold, and then 
his men one after the other. Straightway when 
he came home to the door, then went Erling before 
the door and louted before the king, and greeted 
him. The king answered and bade God help him. 
Then Erling took up the word : " So is it told me 
that a great folly hath overtaken Asbiorn my kins- 
man, and ill is it, king, if so it hath been brought 
about that thou art ill content thereat. For this 
therefore have I now come to offer for him peace, 
and suchlike boot as thou thyself wilt have done, 
and to take in return his life, and limbs, and land- 

The king answers : " So meseemeth, Erling, as 
if thou and thine deem ye now to have the might 
in the matter of Asbiorn ; and I know not why 
thou so givest it out that thou wouldst bid peace for 
him ; for I am minded to think that for this cause 
hast thou drawn together an host of men, that thou 
meanest now to rule matters between us." 

CXXVII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 229 

Erling says : " Thou shalt rule, king ; and rule 
so that we part appeased." 

The king says : " Dost thou mean to put me to 
fear, Erling ? and hast thou this mickle company 
to that end ? Nay," says he, " but if there be 
aueht else in it, I shall not flee now." .... 

Erline answereth : " Thou needest not mind me 
of that, that our meetings have hitherto gone in 
such wise that I have had but a little might of folk 
against thee. But now I will not hide it from 
thee what is in my mind : to wit, that I will we 
part in peace; otherwise I look for it that I shall 
not risk our meeting any more." And Erling was 
red as blood in the face of him. 

Then came forth Sigurd the Bishop and said to 
the kinof : " Lord, I command thee in obedience to 
God's cause, to make peace with Erling even 
according to his bidding, to wit, that this man have 
peace of life and limb, but that thou alone frame 
the peace-covenant." 

The king answered : " Thou shalt rule." Then 
spoke the bishop : " Thou, Erling, give the king 
such surety as liketh him ; and let Asbiorn then 
take his truce and go into the power of the king." 
Erling got the sureties, and the king took them. 
Then Asbiorn went to take truce, and gave 
himself up to the king, and kissed him on the 
hand. Whereupon Erling turned away with his 
company ; but no greetings there were. 

The king went into the hall, and Asbiorn with 
him ; whereupon the king laid open the peace- 
award : " This shall be the beginning of our peace, 
Asbiorn, that thou shalt undergo this law of the 

230 The Saga Library. CXXVIII 

land, that whoso slayeth a servant of the king, he I 
shall undertake that same service if it be the king's 
will. Now will I that thou take on thee this 
same stewardship that Seal-Thorir had, and to 
rule over my manor here at Ogvaldsness." Asbiorn 
said that so it should be as the king would. " But 
first would I fare home to my house, and set it in 
order." The king said he was well content there- 
with, and he went thence to another feast which 
had been arrayed for him thereby ; but Asbiorn 
gat him away to meet his fellows. They had lain 
in hiding-bights all the while that Asbiorn was 
away. They had had news of all that had betid 
him over his matters, and would not go away until 
they knew what might be the upshot thereof. 


"^HEN Asbiorn turns to his journey, and 
letted not the spring through, until he 
comes north to his stead. Ever thereafter 
he was called Asbiorn Seal's-bane. But when 
Asbiorn had been home no long while, the two 
kinsmen met, he and Thorir. and talked together. 
Thorir asked him carefully about his journey, and 
all the things that had betid therein ; and Asbiorn 
told the tale as it had come to pass. Said Thorir : 
"Then, belike, thou deemest thou hast wreaked 
the shame that was done to thee when thou wast 
robbed last autumn ? " " So is it," said Asbiorn, 
" or what deemest thou thereof, kinsman ? " " That 
is soon said," quoth Thorir ; " thy first journey, 

CXXIX The Story of Olaf tJte Holy. 231 

whereas thou faredst south into the land, was of 
the shamefullest, yet one that stood to some boot- 
ing ; but this journey is the shame both of thee 
and thy kinsmen if that come to pass that thou be 
made a king's thrall, and peer of Thorir Seal, the 
worst of men. Now do thou so manly that thou 
rather sit here on thine own lands, and we, thy 
kinsmen, shall give thee strength so much that 
thou shalt come never again into such a jeopardy." 
Asbiorn deemed this seemly, and before he and 
Thorir parted, this counsel was settled upon, that 
Asbiorn should sit at home, and not go to the 
king or into his service. And so did he, and sat 
at home at his steads. 



FTER that King Olaf and Erling Skialg- 
son had met at Ogvaldsness, ill-will arose 
anew betwixt them, and waxed hereto that 
it came to utter enmity betwixt them. 

In the spring King Olaf fared manor-eating 
about Hordland, and thence fared up to Vors, 
whereas he had heard that the folk there were but 
little in the faith. He held a Thing with the 
bonders at a place called Vang ; thither came the 
bonders thronging all-armed. The king bade them 
take christening, but the bonders bade him battle in 
return, and it came to this that either side drew up 
the battle in array. But this befell the bonders 
that fear shot through their breasts, and no one 
would stand the foremost ; so that was the end of 

232 The Saga Library. CXXIX 

it, which served them better, that they gave them- 
selves up to the king and took christening. Nor 
did the king depart from thence till all folk were 
christened there. 

On a day it befell that the king was riding his 
ways and singing his psalms ; but when he came 
over against the Howes, he took his stand and said : 
"Now let man tell man these words of mine, that 
it be my counsel that never again a king of 
Norway fare betwixt these Howes." And men say 
that most kings have taken heed thereto ever 

Then fared King Olaf out into Osterfirth, and 
there met his ships, and then went north into Sogn, 
and there went feasting the summer through. But 
when harvest-tide set in, he turned up into the 
firth and fared thence up to Valdres, where the 
folk were yet heathen. The king went as fast as 
he might drive up to the Water, and came there 
unawares upon the bonders and took all their ships, 
and went aboard with all his host. Then he 
sheared a Thing-bidding, and the Thing was set so 
near to the water that the king had all the ships to 
fall back upon if he deemed he needed it. The 
bonders sought to the Thing with an host of men 
all-weaponed. The king bade them Christendom, 
but the bonders whooped against him and bade 
him hold his peace, and forthwith made huge din 
and clatter of weapons. But when the king saw 
that they would not hearken to what he had to teach 
them, and also that they had such a multitude of 
folk that there was no withstanding them, he 
turned his speech and asked them if there were 

CXXIX The story of Olaf the Holy. 233 

any men at the Thing who had such causes against 
each other as they wished that he should settle 
between them. It was soon found in the words of 
the bonders, that there were many but ill at peace 
with each other, who had run together to gainsay 
all christeninof. But so soon as the bonders beo^an 
to set forth their plaints, each one gathered folk to 
him to back up his suit. Thus matters went on 
all that day, and at eve the Thing broke up. 

But so soon as the bonders had heard that King 
Olaf had fared over Valdres and had come into 
the peopled parts, they had let fare abroad the 
war-arrow, and summoned together thane and 
thrall, and with this host they fared against the 
king, so that many places there were empty of 

The bonders held together the gathering whenas 
the Thing broke up, and the king was ware 
thereof. So when he came to his ships, he bade 
row right across the water in the night, and let go 
up into the dwelling, and let burn and rob there. 
Next day they rowed from ness to ness, and the 
king let burn all the dwelling. But the bonders 
who were in the gathering, when they saw the reek 
and low of their homesteads, became loose in the 
gathering ; so each one took himself away and 
made for home, to see if he might find his house- 
hold. And so soon as the rift came into the host, 
each fared after other, until it was all split into 
small flocks. And now the king rowed across the 
water and burnt on either shore thereof. Then 
came the bonders to him and prayed for mercy, 
and bade allegiance to him. And he gave life to 

234 The Saga Library. CXXIX 

every man who came to him and craved therefor, 
and their goods therewithal. And now no man 
gainsaid christening, so the king let christen the 
folk and took hostages from the bonders. 

The king tarried there long through the autumn, 
and let draw the ships over the necks between the 
waters. The king fared but little up country away 
from the waters, for he trusted the bonders but ill. 

He let build and hallow churches there, and 
appointed clerks thereto. But when the king 
deemed that frosts might be looked for, he made 
his way up inland and came down upon Thotn. 
Hereof telleth Arnor the earls' skald how King 
Olaf had burnt in the Uplands, whenas he sang 
concerning Harald his brother : 

It goes in the kin, that the king burned 
The homes of those Uplanders. 
There folk paid for the king's wrath. 
Who of all men was foremost. 
Folk would not give obedience 
To the furtherer of things gainful, 
Till things were plunged in peril : 
For the king's foes got but gallows. 

Thereafter King Olaf went north through the 
Dales all the way up on to the fell, nor made a halt 
until he came to Thrandheim, and all the way 
down to Nidoyce. He arrayed there for winter 
sojourn, and sat there winter over. That was the 
tenth winter of his kingdom. 

CXXX-I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 235 


THE summer before, Einar Thambarskelfir 
fared away from the land, and first went 
to England, where he met Hakon his 
brother-in-law, and dwelt there with him a while. 
Sithence Einar went to meet Knut the king, andgot 
great gifts of him. Thereafter he fared south over 
sea and all the way south to Romeburg, and came 
back the summer after, and went to his steads ; 
and that time he and King Olaf did not meet.|: 


THERE was a woman hight Alfhild, who 
was called King's-bondmaid, though she 
was come of good stock. She was the 
fairest of women, and lived at the court of King 
Olaf. But that spring the tidings were that she 
was with child, and the bosom-friends of the king 
knew that he would be father to that child. It so 
befell on a night that Alfhild fell ill, and few 
people were nigh ; there were some women, and a 
priest, and Sigvat the Skald, and some few others. 
Alfhild was heavily beset, and was brought well- 
nigh to death's door. She gave birth to a boy 
bairn, and for a while they knew not for sure 
whether the child were alive. And when he gave 
forth a breath, but all unmightily, the priest bade 
Sigvat go and tell the king. He answers : " I 
dare in nowise go wake the king, for he bannetli 

.236 The Saga Library. CXXXI 

any man to break his sleep ere he awake of 

The priest answers : " Hard need calls for it 
now that this child be christened, for meseems it is 
right unlike to live." Sigvat answers : " Rather 
<dare I risk this, that thou christen the child, than 
that I wake the king, and I will take the blame 
on myself and give name to it." And so they did, 
-and the boy was christened and hight Magnus. 

The next morning, when the king was waked 
and clad, he was told of these tidings, and let call 
Sigvat to him, and said : " Why wert thou so bold 
to let christen my child before I knew thereof ? " 
Sigvat answers : " Because I would rather give 
two men to God than one to the devil." The 
king said : " Why should all that be at stake ? " 
Answered Sigvat : " The child was at death's 
door, and that had been a devil's man had it died 
>heathen ; but now is it a God's man. And, on 
the other hand, I knew, though thou shouldst be 
wroth with me, nought more would lie on it than 
-my life ; and if it be thy will that I lose it for this 
sake, then I look to it that I be God's man." 

The king said : " Why lettest thou hight the 
boy Magnus ? that is no kin-name of us." Sigvat 
answered : " I called him after Karla-Magnus the 
king, for him I knew to be the best man of this 

Then said the king: "A man of great good- 
luck art thou, Sigvat ! but it is nought to wonder 
-at, though good-luck and wisdom go together ; 
but that is more wondrous which whiles can be, 
'that such good-luck follows unwise men, that even 

CXXXII The story of Olaf the Holy. 2ZJ 

unwise redes turn to good-luck." Then was the 
king right glad. The swain was reared, and was. 
soon a likely lad as age went over him. 


THIS same spring King Olaf gave to- 
Asmund Grankelson one-half of the baili- 
wick of Halogaland against Harek of 
Thiotta, who before had had the whole of it, part 
as grant, part as fief. Asmund had a cutter, 
and wellnigh thirty men on board her, all well 
weaponed. And when Asmund came north they 
met, he and Harek, and Asmund told him how 
the king had ordained concerning the bailiwick,, 
and let the tokens of the king follow therewith. 
Harek says that the king must rule as to who was 
to have the bailiwick ; " yet the lords of aforetime 
did not so, to minish the right of us who are kin- 
born to holding dominion of kings, and to hand 
it over to sons of bonders, such as never have had 
the like affairs on hand before." 

Now, though it might be found in Harek that he 
took the matter to heart, he let Asmund take over 
the bailiwick, even according as the king had sent 
words to him. 

So Asmund went home to his father and tarried 
there for a little while, and afterwards went to his 
bailiffry north in Halogaland. And when he came 
north into Longisle, there lived there at that time 
two brothers, one called Gunnstein, the other 
Karli ; they were wealthy men, and of mickle 

238 The Saga Library. CXXXII 

account. Gunnstein was a man of husbandry, 
and the older of the two brothers. Kadi was 
goodly to look upon, and full showy of attire, and 
either was of great prowess in many ways. 

Asmund had good welcome there and tarried 
for a while, and gathered from the bailiffry what 
he could get. Karli put that before Asmund that 
he would go with him south to meet King Olaf, 
and seek him there court-service. Asmund egged 
him on much to this, and promised his furtherance 
before the king hereto, so that Karli might get 
done the errand he besought. So Karli became 
Asmund's fellow-farer. 

Asmund heard that Asblorn Seal's-bane had 
gone south to the fair of Vaga, and had a great 
ship of burden which he owned, and nigh twenty 
men thereon, and that he was as then like to be 
coming from the south. Asmund, he and his, went 
on their way south along the land, and had a head- 
wind, though but little thereof. They met ships 
a-sailing which were of the Vaga-fieet, and they 
asked privily about the goings of Asbiorn. It was 
told them that by then he would be on his way 
from the south. 

Now Asmund and Karli were bedfellows and 
the dearest of friends. So on a day it befell that 
Asmund with his company rowed along a certain 
sound, and a ship of burden came sailing up to 
them. An easy-to-know ship it was : a ship of 
painted bows, and stained with white stone and red. 
and a sail striped with bends they had withal. 

Then said Karli : " Oft talkest thou hereof, how 
thou wouldst be full fain to set eyes on Asbiorn 

CXXXII The story of Olaf the Holy. 239 

Seal's-bane ; now I wot not how to ken a ship if 
he be not sailing there." 

Asmund said : " Do me a good turn, good fel- 
low, and tell me if thou kennest him," 

Then the ships ran past each other, and Karli 
said : " There sits Seal's-bane at the tiller in a blue 
kirtle." Asmund answers : " I shall fetch him a 
red kirtle." And therewith Asmund shot a spear 
to Asbiorn Seal's-bane, and it smote him amidward, 
and flew through him, so that it stuck fast in the 
head-board, and Asbiorn fell dead from the tiller. 
Thereupon either of them went their own way. 

They brought the dead body of Asbiorn north 
to Thrandsness. Then let Sigrid send after Thorir 
Hound from Birchisle, and he came thereto whenas 
Asbiorn's body was laid out according to their 
wont. But when they went away Sigrid chose 
gifts to her friends, and led Thorir off to his ship. 
But before they parted she spake : " So it is now, 
Thorir, that Asbiorn my son hearkened to thy 
loving redes. Now his life did not last long 
enough to reward it as it was worth, and though 
I be worse fitted thereto than he would have been, 
yet have I good-will thereto. Here is now a gift 
that I will give thee, and which I would might 
stand thee in good stead." — But it was a spear. — 
"Here is now that spear which stood through 
Asbiorn my son, and the blood is still thereon ; 
thereby thou mayest the better bear in mind that 
it will tally with the wound which thou sa^vest on 
Asbiorn, thy brother's son. Now it would be a 
manly deed of thee if thou shouldst so let this 
spear go out of thine hand that it should be stand- 

240 The Saga Library. CXXXII | 

ing in the breast of Olaf the Thick. Now I 
speak this word hereon," says she, " that thou be 
every man's dastard if thou avenge not Asbiorn." 
And therewithal she turned away. 

Thorir was so wroth at her words, that he might 
answer nothing, and he heeded not though he let go 
the spear, nor did he heed the bridge, and into the 
deep would he have gone, if men had not caught 
hold of him and steadied him as he went aboard 
the ship. That was a bar-spear and no great one, 
and the socket thereof inlaid with gold. 

So Thorir and his folk rowed away, and home 
to Birchisle. 

Asmund and his company went on their way 
until they came south to Thrandheim and met 
King Olaf, and Asmund told the king what tidings 
had befallen in his farings. Karli became one of 
the king's body-guard, and he and Asmund held 
well to their friendship. But as to the words 
which Karli and Asmund had spoken to each 
other before the slaying of Asbiorn betid, they 
were nowise kept hidden, for they told them to 
the king themselves. But there befell as is said : 
Each hath his friends amongst unfriends; for 
there were certain men there who bore the words 
in mind, and hence they came back again to 
Thorir Hound. 

CXXXIII TheStoryofOlaf the Holy, 2d,i 


AS the spring wore on, King Olaf bestirred 
himself and arrayed his ships ; and later 
in the summer he went south along the 
land, holding Things with the bonders, atoning 
men, and mending the faith of the land. Wherever 
the king went he called in his dues. This summer 
the king went all the way south to the land's end ; 
and by this time he had christened the land every- 
where whereas were the wide countrysides. He 
had also framed laws over all the land. He had 
moreover brought under him the Orkneys, even 
as is aforetold. He had also been sending out 
messages, and made many friends both in Iceland 
and Greenland, and likewise in Faroe. King 
Olaf had sent to Iceland timber for a church, and 
that church was made at Thingwall whereas is the 
Althing, and therewith he sent a great bell, which 
is there still. That was after that the Icelanders 
had changed their law and set up Christian right, 
even according to the words that King Olaf had 
sent them thereanent. Sithence there went from 
Iceland many men of worship, who served in the 
household of King Olaf. There was Thorkel, son 
of Eyolf, Thorleik, son of Bolli, Thord, son of 
Kolbein, Thord, son of Bork, Thorgeir, son of 
Havar, and Thormod Coalbrow-skald. King Olaf 
had sent friendly gifts to many chiefs in Iceland, 
and they sent him such things as there were to be 
had, and which they thought he would deem most 
worthy of being sent him. But in these tokens 
of friendship which the king was showing to the 

IV. R 

242 The Saga Library. CXXXIV 

Icelanders there lay hidden other matters which 
afterwards were laid bare. 


THAT summer King Olaf sent to Iceland 
Thorarin Nefiolfson on his errands ; and 
when the king set off, Thorarin steered 
his own ship out of Thrandheim, and bore him 
fellowship as far south as Mere. Then Thorarin 
sailed out into the main, and had so fair a wind that 
he sailed for four days until he made the Eres in 
Iceland. He went straightway to the Althing, and 
came there when men were on the Law-burg, and 
forthwith went to the Law-burg. But when men 
had done their law-business there, Thorarin 
Nefiolfson took up the word : ** Four nights ago I 
parted from King Olaf Haraldson, and he sendeth 
hither to this land, unto all chieftains and men 
who bear rule in the land, and therewithal to all 
folk, carles and queans, young men and old, men of 
weal and men of woe, God's greeting and his own, 
and therewith that he willeth to be your lord, if ye 
be willing to be his thanes, and either to be friends 
and furtherers of the other unto all orood thinas." 
Men answered his word well, and all folk quoth that 
they would fain be friends of the king, if he were the 
friend of folk here within the land. Then Thorarin 
took up the word : " This goeth with the message 
of the king, that for friendship's sake he prayeth 

CXXXIV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 243 

the Northlanders to give him that island or out- 
skerry which Heth off Eyiafirth and men call 
Grimsey ; in return therefor he willeth to pay such 
goods from his own land as men may crave 
of him. But more, he sendeth word to Gudmund 
of Maddermead to further this matter, for he hath 
heard that Gudmund has most to say in those 

Gudmund answered : " I am fain of friendship 
•with King Olaf, for I am minded to think that 
that will profit me a mickle more than that out- 
skerry which he biddeth. But the king has not 
heard aright that I have more might thereover 
than other men, for that hath now been made 
common. But now shall we have a meeting on 
this matter between ourselves, we who have most 
gain of the island." 

Then go men to their booths ; and thereupon 
the Northlanders hold a meeting between them- 
selves and talk this matter over, and each one had 
his say according as he looked upon the matter. 
Gudmund flitted the case, and many turned towards 
it after his way. Then folk asked why Einar, his 
brother, said nought thereon, " for we deem," they 
say, " that he can see clearest through most 

Then answered Einar : " I am few-spoken on 
this matter because no one has called upon me to 
speak. But if I am to speak my mind, then I am 
minded to think that it will be for the folk of this 
land not to go under any scat-gifts to King Olaf, 
nor any suchlike burdens as he layeth on men in 
Norway ; that unfreedom we should not bring 

244 ^^^ Saga Library. CXXXIV 

upon our own hands only, but both upon ourselves 
and our sons, and our sons' sons, yea, and all our 
offspring dwelling within this land, and that thral- 
dom should never go nor turn away from this land. 
Now though this king be a good man, which I 
well trow he be, yet it will go henceforth as 
hitherto, when there is a change of kings, that they 
be uneven, some good, some ill. But if the folk of 
the land are minded to hold to their freedom, 
which they have had ever since this land was 
dwelled in, then thus must it be done, to let the 
king get no hold, neither as to owning land here, 
nor as to the matter of paying him fixed dues such 
as may be reckoned for liege duty. But that I 
deem well fitting, that men send friendly gifts to 
the king, they who will that, such as hawks, or 
horses, tilts, or sails, or such other things as 
may be fit to be sent. That would be well 
bestowed if friendship came in return. But as to 
Grimsey, this is to be said, that if nothing be 
brought thence wherein is meat-getting, yet may 
an host of men be fed there ; and should an host of 
outland men be sitting there, and they fare thence in 
their longships, then I ween that many a cot-carle 
might deem his door bethronged." 

And forthwith when Einar had spoken this, and 
set forth the whole way out of it, then all the 
people had turned round with one accord that this 
should not be done ; and thus Thorarin saw what 
was the end of his errand in this affair. 

CXXXV TheStoryofOlaf the Holy. 245 


THE next day Thorarin went again to the 
Law-burg, and again spake his errand, 
and began in such wise : " King Olaf 
sendeth word to his friends hither in the land — 
and he named thereof Gudmund, son of Eyolf, 
Snorri the Priest, Thorkel, the son of Eyolf, Skapti, 
the Speaker-at-law, Thorstein, the son of Hall — 
he sendeth you word to this end, that ye should 
fare to meet him, and seek thither a friendly bid- 
ding ; and this he said, that ye should not put this 
journey under your head, if ye deemed his friend- 
ship of any worth." 

They answered this matter, and thanked the 
king for his bidding, and said that they would later 
on let Thorarin know about their journeys, when 
they had taken rede with themselves and their 

Now when the chiefs fell to talking the matter 
over between themselves, each one spake what 
seemed good to him concerning this journey. 
Snorri the Priest and Skapti letted this, to run the 
risk, in face of the men of Norway, that thither 
should fare all those men from Iceland who bore 
most rule in the land. They said that from this 
message they deemed that misgivings might be 
drawn, concerning that which Einar had guessed, 
to wit, that the king was minded to pine some of 
the Icelanders, if he might have his will. Gudmund 
and Thorkel, son of Eyolf, urged much that men 
should bestir themselves according to the word of 

246 The Saga Library. CXXXVI 

King Olaf, and said that that would be a journey 
of great honour. And as they were thrashing out 
this matter between them, that seemed to be held 
most fast among them, that they themselves should 
not fare, but each one to send on his behalf some- 
one who was deemed well fitted thereto. And 
with things thus done they parted from the Thing ;; 
and there befell no outfarings that summer. But 
Thorarin made a double journey of it that summer,, 
and came in harvest-tide to meet King Olaf, and 
told him what was the upshot of his errand, and 
this withal, that the chieftains would come from 
Iceland according to the word he had sent thereto, 
or their sons else. 


'^ w ^ HIS same summer came out to Norway 
I from the Faroes, at the bidding of King 
\_ Olaf, Gilli, the Speaker -at -law, Leif 
Ozurson, Thoralf of Dimon, and many other sons 
of bonders. Thrand o' Gate also arrayed him for 
the journey, but when he was all but ready he fell 
sick of a sudden, so that he might fare nowhither,. 
and so tarried behind. And when the Faroe men 
came and met King Olaf, he called them for a talk 
and had a meeting with them, and unlocked to 
them the errand that underlay the journey, and 
tells them that he will have scat of the Faroes, 
and therewithal that the Faroe folk should abide 
by such laws as King Olaf should frame for them. 
At this meeting, moreover, that was found from 

CXXXVI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 247 

the words of the king, that for this matter he would 
take surety of the Faroe men, who were then come 
there, if they would bind the covenant by sworn 
oaths. And he bade those men of them whom he 
deemed to be the noblest there, to become men of 
his household, and take at his hand honours and 
friendship. The Faroe men accounted so much 
of the words of the king, as that it might be 
doubtful whereto their matter might turn, if they 
would not take upon them all that the king bade 
them. And although sundry meetings were held 
anent this matter or ever it came to a close, it 
came at last to this, that the king prevailed in all 
he bade. And Leif and Gilli and Thoralf became 
of the household of the king, and were made of his 
body-guard. And all these fellow-travellers swore 
oaths to King Olaf to the end that in the Faroes 
should be holden such law and land-right as he 
should frame for them, and such scat be paid as he 
should setde. Thereupon the Faroe men arrayed 
them for the journey home ; and at parting the 
king gave friendly gifts to those who had become 
his men. And whenas they were ready, they 
went on their way. But the king let array a ship 
and got him men thereto, and sent them to the 
Faroes to gather there such scat as the Faroe folk 
should yield him. They were not early boun, but 
they fared when boun they were ; and of their 
journey this is to be told, that they came never back, 
nor any scat to boot the next summer ; for they 
had never come to the Faroes, nor had any man 
craved scat there. 

248 The Saga Library. CXXXVII 


KING OLAF went up into the Wick in 
autumn, and sent word before him to the 
Uplands, and had manor- feasts arrayed, 
whereas he was minded that winter to fare about 
the Uplands ; and therewith he arrayed his journey 
and fared into the Uplands. King Olaf tarried 
that winter about the Uplands, going from feast to 
feast, and setting right all such matters as he 
deemed needed booting, and amending Christian 
law once more wherever he deemed it needful. 

Now that tidings befell, while King Olaf was in 
Heathmark, that Ketil Calf of Ringness fell to 
wooing and bade for Gunnhild, the daughter of 
Sigurd Sow and Asta; and Gunnhild being the 
sister of King Olaf, it fell to the king to answer 
and to settle that matter. He took it in a likely 
manner ; for this cause forsooth, that he knew 
about Ketil that he was high-born and wealthy, a 
wise man and a great lord ; moreover he had long 
since been a mickle friend of King Olaf, even as 
herein is aforesaid. All these things together 
brought it about that the king granted the suit to 
Ketil. And so it came to pass that Ketil gat 
Gunnhild for wife, and at that bridal was King 
Olaf himself. 

Thereafter King Olaf went north to Gudbrands- 
dales, going a-feasting there. There dwelt the 
man who is hight Thord Guthormson, at a stead 
called Steig. Thord was the mightiest man in 
the northern parts of the Dales. And when he 

CXXXVIII The Story ofOlafthe Holy. 249 

and the king met, Thord hove up his wooing, and 
bade for Isrid, daughter of Gudbrand, the sister of 
King Olaf s mother ; and to the king it came to 
give answers to that suit. And as they sat over 
that matter, it was settled that that betrothal 
should take place, and so Thord gat Isrid for wife. 
Afterwards he became the dearest friend of King 
Olaf, and with him many of his kinsfolk and friends 
who turned after his ways. 

Then King Olaf went back south over Thotn 
and Hathaland, and then to Ringrealm, and thence 
out into the Wick. In the spring he went to 
Tunsberg, and tarried a long while there while the 
fair was most and the shipping of goods. There- 
upon he let array his ships, and had with him a 
mickle many men. 


THIS summer there came from Iceland, 
according to King Olaf's message, Stein, 
the son of Skapti, the Speaker-at-law, 
Thorod, the son of Snorri the Priest, Gellir, the 
son of Thorkel Eyolfson, Egil, son of Hall o' Side, 
and brother of Thorstein. The winter before, 
Gudmund, the son of Eyolf, had died. 

The Iceland men went straightway to meet 
King Olaf when they might bring it about. And 
when they met the king, they had a good welcome, 
and were all with him. 

That same summer King Olaf heard that the 
ship he had sent to Faroe for the scat the summer 

250 The Saga Library. CXXXIX 

before had been lost, and had made land nowhere 
that men had heard of. So the king got another ship 
ready, and men, and sent it to Faroe for the scat. 
And these men set off and put to sea, but nought 
was heard of them sithence any more than of the 
others, and many were the guesses as to what 
might have become of these ships. 


KNUT the Rich, whom some call the 
Ancient Knut, he was king at that tide 
over England and over Denmark. Knut 
the Rich was the son of Svein Twibeard, the 
son of Harald. Those forefathers had ruled over 
Denmark for a long time. Harald Gormson, 
the grandfather of Knut, had gotten Norway after 
the fall of Harald Gunnhildson, and had taken scat 
thereof, and set up for the warding of the land Earl 
Hakon the Mighty. Svein the Dane-king, the son 
of Harald, also ruled over Norway, and set there- 
over for the guarding of the land Earl Eric Hakon- 
son. And the brothers, Eric and Svein Hakon- 
son, ruled over the land, until Earl Eric went west 
to England at the word of Knut the Rich, his 
brother-in-law; but he set to rule over Norway, 
and left behind Earl Hakon, his son, the sister's 
son of Knut the Rich. But sithence, when Olaf 
the Thick came to Norway, he first laid hand on 
Earl Hakon, and drove him from the sway, as is 
aforewrit. Then fared Hakon to Knut, his 
mother's brother, and had been with him sithence 

CXXXIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 251 

all the time till where the story has now come. 
Knut the Rich had won England with battles, and 
foueht thereto, and had lonor toil or ever the folk 
of that land had become obedient to him. But 
when he deemed himself fully come into the 
governance of the land, he turned his mind to 
what title he might deem he had to that dominion,, 
the rule whereof he had not himself in his hand, 
Norway, to wit. He deemed that he owned all 
Norway by birthright; but Hakon, his sister's 
son, deemed that he owned some, and that, 
moreover, he had lost it in shameful wise. One 
matter went hereto, why Knut and Hakon had 
held them quiet about laying claim to Norway, that, 
first when Kinof Olaf Haraldson came into the 
land, upsprang all the throng and multitudes of 
the people, and would hear of nothing but that 
Olaf should be kino- over the whole land. But 
sithence, when folk deemed they might not have 
their freedom on account of his masterfulness,, 
some betook them out of the land ; and a great 
many mighty men, or sons of powerful bonders, had 
fared to meet King Knut, on sundry errands as they 
gave out. And each and all who came to King 
Knut and would obey him, got their hands full of 
wealth from him. Withal, there might be seen 
mickle more lordliness than in other places, both 
as to that multitude of people that were about 
there daily, and in the arrayal of the chambers 
that were his, and wherein he himself abode. King 
Knut the Rich took scat and dues of those lands 
which were the wealthiest in northern lands, but at 
the same rate that he had more revenue to take 

252 The Saga Library. CXL 

than other kings, he also gave away all the more 
than any other of the kings. In all his dominion 
there was peace so good, that no one dared trans- 
gress it, and the folk of the land themselves kept 
peace and ancient land-right. For this sake he 
gat mighty renown in all lands. But they who 
came from Norway, a many bemoaned them of 
their loss of freedom, and some set it forth to Earl 
Hakon, and others to King Knut himself, that the 
men of Norway would now be ready to turn back 
under the sway of King Knut and the earl, and 
have their freedom again. This talk was much 
after the heart of the earl, and he bewailed it before 
the king, and bade him see to it, whether King 
Olaf would give up to them the realm or share 
it with them under some covenant. And many 
men furthered this matter alonof with the earl. 


NUT the Rich sent men from the west 
out of England to Norway, and right 
gloriously was their journey arrayed ; 
they had letters with the seal of the King of the 
English. They came and met Olaf Haraldson, 
the King of Norway, in the spring at Tunsberg. 
And when people told the king that there were 
come messengers from King Knut the Rich, then 
waxed he cross-grained thereat, and said thus, 
that Knut would be sending no men thither with 
errands wherein would be gain either to him or 
his men ; and the while of some days the mes- 

CXL The Story of Olaf the Holy. 253 

sengers could not get to see the king. But when 
they got leave to speak to him, they went before 
the king and bore forth the letters of King Knut, 
and gave out the errand that v/ent therewith, to 
wit, that King Knut craved all Norway for his 
own, and tells that his forefathers had had that 
realm before him ; "But inasmuch as King Knut 
desireth to deal peacefully in all lands, his will is 
not to fare with war-shield to Norway, if other 
choice may be found; but if Olaf Haraldson 
will be king over Norway, then let him fare to 
meet King Knut and take the land in fief of 
him, and become his man, and pay him such dues 
as the earls paid aforetime." Then they bore 
forth the letters, which said altogether the same 

Then answered King Olaf: "I have heard it 
told in ancient tales that Gorm the Dane-king was 
deemed to be a mighty enough king of the people^ 
and he ruled over Denmark alone. But this the 
Dane-kings that have been since deem not enough. 
And now it has come to this, that Knut rules over 
Denmark, and over England, and, moreover, has 
broken a mickle deal of Scotland under his sway, 
yet now he layeth claim to my lawful heritage at 
my hands. He should wot how to have measure 
in his grasping in the end ; or is he indeed minded 
alone to rule over all the Northlands, or does he 
mean, he alone, to eat all kale in England ? Yea, 
he will have might thereto or ever I bring him my 
head or give him any louting soever. Now shall 
ye tell him these words of mine, that I mean to 
ward Norway with point and edge whiles my life- 

•254 The Saga Library. CXL 

days last thereto, and not to pay any man scat for 
my own kingdom," 

After this downright answer the messengers of 
King Knut got ready to depart, in nowise pleased 
how their errand had sped. 

Sigvat the Skald had been with King Knut, 

and the king gave him a ring that weighed half a 

mark. Thenwithal was with King Knut, Bersi, 

the son of Skald-Torva, and King Knut gave him 

two gold rings, each of which weighed half a mark, 

and therewithal a fair-dight sword. So sang 

■ Sigvat : 

O Cub ! this Knut the famed 
Right deed-noble, full stately 
Bedight the hands of us twain, 
Then when the king we came on. 
To thee a gold mark gave he 
Or more, and a war-sword bitter, 
To me a half-mark. Throughly 
God ruleth all much wisely. 

Sigvat got himself acquainted with the mes- 
sengers of King Knut and asked them of many 
tidings. They told him all he asked for of the 
parley between them and King Olaf, and also of 
the end of their errand. They said that the king 
had taken their business heavily. " And we wot 
not," they say, " unto whom he trusteth so much, as 
to gainsay it to become King Knut's man, and to 
go see him ; for that would be the best thing he 
could do, for King Knut is so merciful that never 
do lords so bigly to win his enmity, but that he will 
give all up, so soon as they fare to meet him and 
do him louting. It was but a little since that to 
]him came two kings from the north from Scotland 

CXL The Stojy of Olaf the Holy. 255 

■out of Fife, and he gave up all his anger to them, 
and gave them back all the lands which they had 
■owned before, and therewithal great friendly gifts." 
Then sang Sigvat : 

Yea, kings full well renowned 

Have brought King Knut their heads then 

From Mid-Fife of the Northland. 

That was peace-cheaping soothly. 

But Olaf sold head never 

To any man of this world. 

Full often hath the Thick one 

Well fought him out the victory. 

King Knut's messengers went back on their 
way, and had fair wind over the main. Afterwards 
they went to meet King Knut, and told him to 
what end their errand had sped, and therewith 
also the winding-up words which King Olaf spoke 
to them at the last. 

King Knut answered : " Olaf guesseth not aright, 
if he be minded that I want to eat up, myself alone, 
all kale in England ; but I would rather that he find 
that there is more stuff within the ribs of me than 
kale alone ; from henceforth cold rede shall come 
to him from under every rib of mine." 

That same summer came from Norway to King 
Knut, Aslak and Skialg, the sons of Erling of 
Jadar, and gat a good welcome there, for that 
Aslak was wedded to Sigrid, the daughter of Earl 
Svein, son of Hakon, and she and Earl Hakon, 
the son of Eric, were brothers' children. King 
Knut gave those brethren great grants there under 
him, and they were held in great honour. 

256 The Saga Library. CXLI 


KING OLAF summoned to him his landed- 
men and had great multitude of folk about 
him that summer ; for the word went that 
Knut the Rich would be faring from the west from 
England in the run of the summer. Folk deemed 
with themselves that they learnt from cheaping- 
ships which came from the west, that Knut would 
be drawing together a mickle host in England ; but 
as the summer wore, one would yeasay, another gain- 
say that the host would be coming. But that summer 
through King Olaf was in the Wick and had his spies 
out if King Knut should be coming to Denmark. 

In autumn King Olaf sent men east to Sweden to 
King Onund his brother-in-law, and let tell him the 
message of King Knut and the challenge he laid 
against King Olaf to Norway; and this he let follow, 
that he was minded to think that if Knut laid 
Norway under, then Onund would have peace in 
Sweden but a little while thereafter, and therefore 
he deemed it a good rede that he and Onund 
should bind covenant together and rise up against 
him ; and he said that they nowise lacked might 
to uphold strife with King Knut. 

King Onund took King Olafs message in good 
part, and sent word in return that he will strike 
fellowship on his part with King Olaf, on the terms 
that each should grant the other help out of his 
realm whichsoever should need it first. 

This was in the messages between them withal, 

ex LI I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 257 

that they should have a meeting together and make 
up their minds as to what was to be done. King 
Onund was minded to fare the next winter over 
West Gautland, but King Olaf made things ready 
for a wintering at Sarpsburg. 


KING KNUT came that harvest-tide to 
Denmark, and sat there through the 
winter with a great multitude of people. 
It was told him that men and messages had gone 
betwixt Norway's king and the Swede-king, and 
that behind it were big redes toward. King Knut 
sent in the run of that winter men over to Sweden 
to see King Onund, and he sent him great gifts 
and friendly messages, saying that he might well 
sit in quiet over the quarrels of him and Olaf the 
Thick : " whereas King Onund," says he, " and 
his realm shall be in peace for me." And when 
the messengers came to see King Onund, they 
bore forth the gifts that King Knut sent him and 
his friendship therewith. King Onund did not 
turn a ready ear to their parleys, and the mes- 
sengers deemed they saw this therein, that King 
Onund will have much turned to friendship with 
King Olaf. So back they went and told King 
Knut how their errands had sped, and that there- 
withal, that they bade him look to no friendship 
from King Onund. 


258 The Saga Library. CXLIII 


THAT winter King Olaf sat in Sarpsburg 
and had a many men about him. At this 
time he sent Karlithe Halogalander north 
into the land with his errands. Karli fared first 
to the Uplands, and then north over the mountains, 
and came down in Nidoyce, and took there the 
king's money, so much as he had word to, and a 
good ship which he deemed well fitted for such a 
journey as the king had been minded for him, to 
wit, to fare north to Biarmland. The matter was 
so laid down, that Karli should be the king's 
partner, and each should have one-half of all the 
goods against the other. 

Karli steered the ship north into Halogaland 
early in the spring, and then Gunnstein, his brother, 
betook himself to the journey with him, and had to 
him cheaping-wares. They were nigh five-and- 
twenty men aboard that ship ; and they went early 
that spring north into Finmark. 

Thorir Hound heardthe news of this.and sent men 
and messages to those brethren, and that withal, that 
he is minded himself to fare that summer to Biarm- 
land, and that he would they should sail in fellow- 
ship and share their gettings evenly. Karli and 
his brother sent word in return that Thorir should 
have five-and-twenty men even as they had ; and 
then they would that of the goods that might be 
gotten there should be equal sharing between the 
ships, not counting therein the cheaping-wares men 
had. But when Thorir's messengers came back, 

CXLIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 259 

he had let launch a longship, a huge buss which 
he owned, and had let array it. This ship he 
manned with his house-carles, and aboard the ship 
were wellnigh eighty men. Thorir ruled alone 
over this company, and to him belonged whatever 
gain might be come by in the journey. 

And now when Thorir was arrayed, he steered 
his ship north along the land, and happened on 
Karli and his, north in Sandver. Sithence fared 
they all in company, and had a fair wind. 

Gunnstein said to his brother Karli, so soon as 
they and Thorir met, that he deemed Thorir had 
altogether too great a company of men. " And 
my mind is," says he, " that it would be wiser to 
turn back, and not to fare in such wise as that 
Thorir may do with us whatsoever he pleaseth, for 
I trust him but ill." 

Karli says : " I will not turn back ; yet this is 
true, that if I had known, when we were at home 
in Longisle, that Thorir Hound would come into 
our journey with so great an host as he now has, 
then we should have taken more men with us." 

The brothers talked hereon with Thorir, and 
asked how it came about that he had so many 
more men with him than had been bespoken. He 
answereth thus : " We have a big ship that needeth 
many hands ; and methinketh that in such a ven- 
turous journey a good man is not one too many." 
The summer through they went mostly as the 
ships would go : for when the wind was light the 
ship of Karli and his made more way, and then 
they sailed on ahead ; but when it blew harder 
Thorir and his would overhaul them. Seldom 

26o The Saga Library. CXLIII 

were they all together, but each knew always of 
the other. 

So when they came to Biarmland, they hove 
into a cheaping-stead, and there befell a market, 
and those men who had money to spend got wealth 
in plenty. Thorir got some grey wares, and 
beaver-skins, and sables ; Karli also had a right 
mickle of money, wherewith he bought much of 

Now, when the market came to an end, they 
sailed down the river Vina ; and then the peace 
with the folk of the land was proclaimed to be 
ended. So when they came out into the main 
there was a meeting of the crews, and Thorir 
asked if the men were at all minded to go up aland 
and get wealth for themselves. The men answered 
that they were fain thereof, if wealth was certain to 
be gained. Thorir said that wealth there would be 
for the getting, if the journey should turn out well, 
but that it was not unlike that there would be 
man-risk in the faring. They all said that they 
would venture on it, if wealth was to be looked for. 
Thorir said that this was a wont of the land when 
wealthy men died, that the chattels should be 
shared between the dead man and his heirs : he to 
have one-half or one-third, or whiles less ; that 
wealth should be carried out into woods, or whiles 
into howes, and mould should be poured upon it ; 
but that whiles houses would be reared thereover. 
He said that they should array themselves for the 
journey at the eve of day. So was it given out 
that no one should run away from the others, and 
that none should lag behind when the shipmasters 

CXLIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 261 

called out that they should be off again. They 
left some men behind to heed the ships, and the 
rest went up aland. 

At first there were flat fields, and next a mickle 
woodland. Thorir went ahead, but the brothers 
Karli and Gunnstein went last. Thorir bade the 
men fare silently : " And strip ye the trees of their 
bark so that one tree may be seen from the other." 

Now they came forth into a great clearing in 
the wood, and in the clearing was a high faggot- 
garth, with a door therein locked. Six men out of 
the folk of the land should watch the fence every 
night, each two for one-third thereof. When 
Thorir and his men came to the garth, the watchers 
were gone home, but those who next should watch 
were not yet come to the watch. Thorir went to 
the fence and hooked his axe on the top of it, and 
hauled himself up hand over hand, and so in over 
the garth on one side of the gate ; and by that 
time Karli also had gotten him over the fence on 
the other side of the gate ; and Thorir and Karli 
came both at one and the same time to the door, 
and pulled the bolts aside and opened the door, 
and the men went into the garth. 

Spake Thorir : " In this garth is a howe in which 
all is mixed together, gold and silver and mould, 
and for this men shall make ; but in the garth 
stands the god of the Biarms, which hight Jomali ; 
and let no one be so daring as to rob him." Then 
they made for the howe and took there wealth as 
they most might and bare it in their raiment, and 
much mould went with it, as was to be looked for. 
Then Thorir gave out the word that the men 

262 The Saga Library. CXLIII 

should go back, and spake thus : " Now shall ye 
brothers Karli and Gunnstein go first, and I shall 
go last." Then turned they all out towards the 
gate. Thorir turned back to Jomali, and took a 
silver bowl which stood in his lap and was full of 
silver pennies, and he poured the silver into his 
cloak, but slipped upon his arm the bow which 
was over the bowl, and then went out to the 

By that time all those fellows had got out 
through the faggot-fence, and then became ware 
that Thorir had tarried behind. So Karli turned 
back to look for him, and they met inside the gate, 
and Karli saw that there had Thorir got the silver 
bowl. Then Karli ran up to the Jomali, and saw 
that a thick collar was about his neck ; he reared 
up his axe and smote asunder the string at the 
back of the neck whereto the collar was fast ; the 
stroke was so mickle, that off flew Jomali's head ; 
then came a crash so great, that they all deemed 
it a wonder. But Karli took the collar, and they 
went their ways. 

But straightway when the crash befell, the 
warders came forth into the clearino-, and forthwith 
blew on their horns ; and thereon the others heard 
trumpets go on every side about them. So they 
made for the wood and got into it, but heard from 
the clearing behind them whooping and crying, 
for now the Biarms were come. 

Thorir Hound went the last man of his com- 
pany ; before him walked two men carrying a bag 
between them, and what was therein seemed most 
like unto ashes. Thorir dipped his hand therein. 

ex LI 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy. 263 

and sowed this about their slot, and whiles he cast 
it forth over the company. 

Thus they fared out of the wood, and unto the 
fields. They heard how the host of the Biarms 
went after them with crying and yelling full ugsome. 
Then came they rushing after them out of the 
wood, and on two sides of them. Yet nowhere 
came the Biarms or their weapons so near them 
that any hurt befell thereof; and they kenned that 
of it, that the Biarms saw them not. But when 
they came to the ships, Karli and his went first 
aboard, for they were the foremost as they came 
down, but Thorir was farthest up aland. Forth- 
with when Karli and his got aboard their ship, 
they swept off the tilts and cast off the moorings ; 
then they drew up sail, and the ship soon sped off 
into the main. 

But with Thorir and his thingfs went more 
slowly, their ship being more unwieldy. And 
when they bore a hand to the sail, Karli and his 
were already long from the land. So both sailed 
across Witchwick. 

The nights were still bright, and both sailed 
day and night until Karli and his hove into certain 
islands one day at even ; there they struck sail and 
cast anchor, waiting for the ebb of tide, for there 
was a strong roost before them. Thereafter, thither 
came Thorir and his, and to anchor also. Then 
they put out a boat, and thereon went Thorir and 
men with him, and rowed over to Karli's ship. 
Thorir went aboard it, and the brothers greeted him 
well, but Thorir bade Karli handsel him the collar : 
" For I deem myself worthiest to have the most 

264 The Saga Library. CXLIII 

precious things which were taken there, inasmuch 
as I deemed that ye had to thank me for that the 
coming away thence was without loss of life ; but 
thou, Karli, meseemeth, didst run us into the 
greatest peril." 

Then said Karli : " King Olaf is the owner of 
one-half of all the goods that I may come by in 
this journey ; now I mean the collar for him. Go 
see him, if thou wilt, and it may be that he will 
give the collar over to thee, if so be he will have 
nought of it, because I took it off the Jomali." 

Then answered Thorir and said that he would 
they should go up on the island and share their 
o-ains. Gunnstein said that now was the turn of 
the tide, and it was time to sail. Therewith they 
drew in their cables, and when Thorir saw that, 
he went down into the boat, and he and his rowed 
back to their ship. Karli and his men had hoisted 
their sail and were gotten afar, before Thorir and 
his were under sail. And they fared in such wise, 
that Karli and his always sailed ahead, and either 
of them did the utmost they could. In this wise 
they fared on until they came to Geirsver, the first 
place where, coming from the north, one may lie 
at a pier. Thither they came both one day at 
eve, and lay in haven there off the pier. Thorir 
and his lay up the haven, and Karli and his 
further out in it. 

Now when Thorir and his had tilted their 
ship, he went up aland, and a great many of his 
men with him, and went to Karli's ship, which he 
and his had already made snug. Thorir hailed the 
ship, and bade the masters come aland, and the 

ex LI 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy, 265 

brothers went ashore together with certain of their 
men. Then Thorir set forth again the same 
speech as before, bidding them go up on land and 
bear up their wealth for sharing, such as they had 
taken as war-prey. The brothers answered there 
was no need for this until they came home to the 
builded land. Thorir said that was no men's wont 
not to share war-spoil till they were back home, 
and so risk men's uprightness. They had sundry 
words about this matter, each looking at it in his 
own way. 

So Thorir turned away ; but when he had gone 
but a little way, he turned back and said that his 
fellows should bide him there. Then he called 
to Karli, and said: " I will speak with thee privily." 
So Karli came to meet him. But when they met 
Thorir thrust a spear to the midmost of him, so 
that it stood through him. Then spake Thorir : 
"There mayst thou ken, Karli, one of the Birch- 
isle men, and I thought it good withal that thou 
shouldst ken the* spear, Seal's-avenger." Karli 
died at once, and Thorir and his went back to 
their ship. 

Gunnstein and his men saw the fall of Karli, 
and ran thither forthwith to the spot, and took up 
his body, and bore it to their ship ; they struck 
the tilts straightway and cast off the gangways, 
and thrust out from the land ; sithence they 
hoisted sail and went their ways. Thorir and his 
saw this, and strike their tilts, and array them- 
selves at their utmost speed. But as they hauled 
up the sail the halliard broke asunder, and down 
came the sail athwart the ship, and a long while 

266 The Saga Library. CXLIII 

Thorir and his must needs tarry there, or ever 
they got up their sail a second time ; and far in 
the offing were Gunnstein and his by the time that 
Thorir's ship was under way ; and both things did 
Thorir and his men : sail, to wit, and help sail by 
rowing, and the same thing Gunnstein and his did. 
And thus either went at their utmost speed day 
and night. Slowly it drew together between them, 
for when the island sounds began, Gunnstein's 
ship was much the handier for steering ; yet Thorir 
and his drew up to them so much, that when 
Gunnstein and his came off Longwick they turned 
there to land, and ran away from the ship up on 
to the land. And a little after Thorir and his 
came thither, and leapt up ashore after them and 
gave them chase. A certain woman gat help to 
Gunnstein and hid him, and it Is said that she was 
much cunning in wizardry. Then Thorir and his 
went back to the ship and took to them all the 
wealth aboard Gunnstein's ship, and bore stones 
on it instead thereof, and brought it out into the 
firth and scuttled it, and sank it down, whereupon 
Thorir and his went their way home to Birchisle. 

Gunnstein and his fared at first with head much 
hidden ; they ferried them forth in small boats, 
and fared a-nlght and lay still by day ; and fared 
thuswise till they were come past Birchisle, and 
were clear out of the bailiwick of Thorir. 

Gunnstein fared first to Longlsle, and tarried 
there but a short while. Then straightway he 
set off on his journey to the south, and letted 
not till he came south to Thrandhelm, and there 
fell in with King Olaf, and told him all tidings 

CXLIV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 267 

such as had befallen in the journey to Biarmland. 
The king took this journey of theirs sorely to 
heart, but bade Gunnstein be with him, and says 
he will rieht Gunnstein's case as soon as he miorht 
bring it about. Gunnstein took that bidding with 
thanks, and abode with King Olaf. 


SO is it aforesaid that King Olaf was east 
at Sarpsburg that winter whenas King 
Knut sat in Denmark. That winter 
Onund the Swede-king rode over West Gautland 
with more than thirty hundred men. Then fared 
men and word-sendings between him and King 
Olaf ; and they made tryst between them to meet 
in the spring at the King's Rock. They tarried the 
meeting thus for this cause, that they would know, 
before they met, what undertakings King Knut 
might have on hand. But as the spring wore 
King Knut got ready with his host to fare west 
to England. He set up behind him in Denmark 
Hordaknut his son, and wnth him Wolf the Earl, the 
son of Thorgils Sprakalegg. Wolf was wedded to 
Astrid, the daughter of King Svein and sister of 
Kine Knut, and their son was that Svein who was 
sithence king in Denmark. Wolf the Earl was a 
man of the greatest mark. 

Now Knut the Rich went west to England, and 
when the Kings Olaf and Onund heard that, they 
went to the tryst and met in the Elf at King's Rock. 
A merry meeting was this, and of much friendly 

268 The Saga Library. CXLIV 

ways, so far as it was bare before all folk. Yet they 
bespoke many things between them, whereof only 
they two knew; sundry of which counsels came to be 
gone on with, and were then clear for all folk to see. 
But at sundering the kings gave gifts one to the 
other and parted friends. Then King Onund went 
up into Gautland, but King Olaf went north into 
the Wick and thence out to Agdir, and thence 
again north along the land, and lay a much long 
while in Eikundsound and abode a wind. He heard 
that Erling Skialgson and the folk of Jadar with 
him were laying a gathering, and had a mickle 

That was on a day that the king's men were 
talking of the weather, if it were blowing south or 
south-west, or whether such a wind were weatherly 
to sail about the Jadar or not. Most said that un- 
weatherly it was. Then answers Haldor Bryn- 
iolfson : *' I am minded to think," says he, " that it 
would be deemed fair weather enough for fetching 
Jadar, if Erling Skialgson had arrayed a feast for 
us at Soli." 

Then said King Olaf that the tilts should 
be struck, and the ships be put to sea, and so it 
was done. So that day they sailed and doubled 
the Jadar, and the weather was of the fairest, and 
at night they hove into Whitings-isle. Then the 
king went north to Hordland, where he went about 

C X L V The Story of Olaf the Holy. 269 


THAT spring a ship had fared from Norway- 
out to the Faroes, and with that ship went 
words from King Olaf to the end, that from 
the Faroes there should come to him some one of 
his men, Leif, the son of Ozur, to wit, or Gilli the 
Speaker-at-law, or Thoralf of Dimon. But when 
this word-sending came to the Faroes and was 
told to these same, they had a parley between them 
as to what might lie under this message ; and they 
were of one mind in deeminor that the kingf would 
be of will to ask of the tidings, which some men 
held had verily befallen in the islands concerning 
the misgoing of the king's messengers, those two 
crews, to wit, whereof not a soul had been saved. 
They settled between them that Thoralf should 
go ; and he betook himself to the journey, and 
arrayed a ship of burden which he owned, and gat 
him men thereto; and they were ten or twelve 
together aboard. But when they were boun 
and abiding fair wind, that betid at the house of 
Thrand o' Gate in East-isle one fair-weather day, 
that Thrand went into the hall while there lay on 
the dais two of his brother's sons, Sigurd and Thord, 
sons of Thorlak ; but the third man was Gaut the 
Red, who was also a kinsman of theirs. All these 
fostersons of Thrand were doughty men ; Sigurd 
was the eldest, and ahead in all matters. Thord 
had a to-name, and was called Thord the Low ; for 
all that he was the highest of men ; and yet more, 
he was both exceeding stout and mighty of strength. 

270 The Saga Library. CXLV 

Then said Thrand : " Much will change in a 
man's life. Unoft it betid when we were young, that 
on fair-weather days they should be sitting or lying 
who were young and of able body in all matters. 
Nor would that have seemed like to the men of 
aforetime, that Thoralf of Dimon should be a man 
of more pith than ye ; but the ship of burden which 
I have had this while, and here stands in her shed, 
methinks, it is now become so ancient that she rots 
under her tar. Every house here is full of wool, 
and one cannot so much as get it aired. This 
would not be if I were but a few winters younger." 

Now Sigurd sprang up and called upon Gaut 
and Thord, saying he could not stand the mocking 
of Thrand. And out they go to where were the 
house-carles. They go to the shed and run out 
the ship of burden ; they let flit a lading, and 
loaded the ship; for no lack of lading was there at 
home ; and withal all gear for the ship. So in a 
few days they arrayed her, and they too were ten 
men or twelve aboard. 

They and Thoralf had one and the same 
weather, and always knew of each other on the 
main sea. They took land in Herna at eve of a 
day, and Sigurd and his lay-to further west along 
the strand, yet there was short space between them. 

Now it befell in the evening, when it was dark, and 
Thoralf and his were minded for bed, that Thoralf 
went up aland, and another man with him, and 
sought for them a place of easement. And when 
they were about to go down again, says he who 
followed him, a cloth was cast over his head, and 
he was lifted up from the earth, and in that same 

CXLV TJie Story of Olaf the Holy. 27 1 

nick of time he heard a crash ; then he was brouofht 
along and heaved up for a fall where was the sea 
under him, and into the deep he was plunged ; but 
when he got aland again, he fared thither whereas 
he and Thoralf had parted, and found Thoralf, who 
was cloven down to the shoulder, and was then 
dead. And when his shipmates were ware hereof, 
they bore his body out on board ship and waked it. 

Now at that time was King Olaf in Lygra at a 
feast, and word was brought thither ; then was an 
Arrow-Thing summoned, and the king was at the 
Thing. He had let summon thither the Faroe 
crews from both the ships, and to the Thing they 
had come. Now when the Thing was set, the 
king stood up and spoke : " Tidings have befallen 
here, whereof it is better that such are seldom told 
of. Here has a good man been bereft of his life, 
and a sackless one we deem him to be ; or is there 
any man at the Thing who knows and can tell who 
is the doer of this deed ? " 

But no one came forth thereto. 

Then said the king: "It is nought to lain 
what my misdoubting is about this work, that in 
my mind it lies on the hands of the Faroe men ; 
and I misdoubt me that it is most like that in this 
way it hath been done ; to wit, that Sigurd Thor- 
lakson must have slain the man, and Thord the 
Low must have cast the other into the deep ; and 
furthermore I would make this guess, that the 
grudge found against Thoralf must have been, that 
they did not wish that he should be a tell-tale of 
those ill-doings of theirs, which he must have known 
of as true, whereof we have long misdoubted us. 

272 The Saga Library. CXLV 

concerning the murders, and those ill-deeds where- 
by my messengers have been murdered there." 

But when the king came to the end of his 
speech, Sigurd Thorlakson stood up and said :. 
" Never have I spoken at Things before, and I 
doubt I shall not be deemed deft of word, and yet, 
meseems, there is cause enough why I should 
answer somewhat. Now I will guess that this 
rede which the king hath put forth, will have come 
from under the tongue-roots of such men as are 
much unwiser than he, and worser ; and it is no 
hidden matter that they have fully made up their 
minds to be our foes. Now that is a word unlikely, 
that I should have the wish to be Thoralf s scather, 
whereas he was my fosterbrother and my good 
friend. But if there had been other matters 
thereto, and that there had been guilts betwixt me 
and Thoralf, yet I am stored with wits enough, that 
I should rather risk such work at home in Faroe 
than here, under thy very hand, king. Now will I 
gainsay this matter for myself and for all us ship- 
mates ; and I offer to take oath thereon, even as 
thy laws stand thereto. But if ye deem another 
thing more trustworthy in aught, then will I bear 
iron, and I will that thou thyself see to the 

Now when Sigurd had made an end of his 
speech, many men came forward in his furtherance, 
and bade the king that Sigurd get chance to clear 
himself; they deemed that Sigurd had spoken well 
and quoth that that would be unsooth whereof he 
was wyted. 

The king says : " Concerning this man great 

CXLV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 273 

will be the difference. If he be belied in this case, 
he will be a eood man, but otherwise he must be 
foolhardy beyond example, and that is rather my 
miso^ivine ; but I sfuess he will himself bear witness 

Now because of the prayers of men the king 
took surety of Sigurd for the ordeal of iron-bearing, 
and he was to come the day after to Lygra, and 
there the bishop should do him the ordeal ; and 
thus the Thing broke up. The king fared back to 
Lygra, and Sigurd and his shipmates to their ship. 

And now it speedily grew dark with night, and 
Sigurd said to his shipmates : " Sooth to say it is, 
that we have come into mickle trouble, and are in 
face of a mickle false witness ; and this is a king 
tricky and guileful, and it is easily seen what our lot 
will be if he shall rule it; for he first let slay Thoralf, 
and now will he make us out of the laws. It is a 
small matter for him to bewilder this bearing of 
iron, and I am minded to deem that he will come by 
the worse who will run this risk with him. Now 
withal there setteth down the sound a flaw from the 
mountains, and my counsel is that we up sail, and 
sail out into the main sea. Let Thrand fare next 
summer with his wool if he will let sell it ; but if I 
get away now, methinks it is to be looked for 
of me, that I shall never be coming again to 

His shipmates deemed this deft rede, and fell to 
setting their sail, and let go through the night into 
the main as fast as they might drive. They letted 
not ere they came to the Faroes, and home to 
Gate. Thrand took it ill of their journey; but they 

IV. T 

274 The Saga Library. CXLVI 

gave him back no good answers, though they were 
biding at home with Thrand. Speedily heard 
King Olaf that Sigurd and his men were gotten 
away, and therewith rumour lay heavy on them of 
that case. There were many who said then that it 
was like that Sigurd and his men had been spoken 
of truly, even of them who before had denied the 
matteron Sigurd's behalf, and spoken against it. King 
Olaf was few-spoken about this matter, but deemed 
he now knew that it was true what before he had 
but misdoubted. So the king went on his way, and 
took banquets where they were arrayed for him. 


KING OLAF called to a parley with him 
those men who had come from Iceland, 
to wit, Thorod, the son of Snorri, Gellir, 
son of Thorkel, Stein, the son of Skapti, and Egil, 
son of Hall. And the king took up the word : 
*' Ye have waked up to me this summer a matter, 
to wit, that ye will dight you for the Iceland-faring, 
and I have not as yet given out my last word 
thereon ; now I will tell you what I am minded to. 
Gellir, thee am I minded for Iceland, if thou wilt 
bear my errands thither ; but the other Iceland 
men who are here now, they shall not fare to 
Iceland, ere I hear how those matters are taken, 
which thou, Gellir, shalt bear thither." 

But when the king had put this forth, they who 
were fain of the journey, and to whom it was 
banned, deemed they had but a sour lot, and thought 

CXLVI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 275 

their sitting there a matter ill, and savouring of 

Now Gellir gat ready for his journey, and fared 
in the summer to Iceland, and had thither with 
him those words sent, which he gave forth the 
summer after at the Thing. But this was the 
word sent by the king, that he bade this of the 
Icelanders, that they should take to those laws 
which he had set in Norway, and give him from 
the land thane-gild and nose-gild, for every nose a 
penny, ten whereof should go to an ell of wadmal. 
That went herewith, that he behight men his friend- 
ship if they would yeasay this, but a hard lot other- 
wise, on to whomsoever he might bring it. Men 
sat long over this matter, and took counsel thereon 
between them, and at last they were all agreed, 
with one accord to naysay all scat-gifts and taillages 
such as were craved of them. 

And that summer Gellir fared abroad to meet 
King Olaf, and happened on him that same autumn 
east in the Wick, whenas he had come down from 
Gaudand ; whereof I ween the story shall be 
further told later on in the saga of King Olaf. 

As the harvest-tide wore on, King Olaf sought 
north to Thrandheim, and drew with all his com- 
pany down to Nidoyce; there he let dight his 
wintering. King Olaf sat that winter in the 
Cheaping-stead. That was the thirteenth winter 
of his kingdom. 

2/6 The Saga Library. CXLVII 


KETIL lAMTI hight a man, the son of 
Earl Oniind of Spareby in Thrandheim. 
He had fled before King Eystein the 
Evil-minded east over the Keel. He cleared the 
woods and built there whereas it is now hight 
lamtland. Eastways thither fled also crowds of 
folk from Thrandheim before that unpeace ; for 
King Eystein made the Thrandheim folk yield 
him scat, and set up for a king there his own 
hound hight Saur. The son's-son of Ketil was 
Thorir the Helsing, after whom is Helsingland 
named, and there he builded. But when King 
Harald Hairfair ridded the realm before him, then 
a multitude of folk fled before him out of the land, 
both of Thrandheim and of Naumdale, and dwell- 
ings were made yet further east about lamtland ; 
and some fared to Helsingland from the eastern 
sea, and they were lieges of the King of Sweden. 

But when Hakon, Athelstan's Fosterson, was 
king over N orway, then was set peace and chaffering 
from Thrandheim to lamtland. And for the sake 
of their love of the king, the lamtlanders sought 
from the east to see him, and yeasaid to him their 
allegiance, and yielded scat to him, and he set 
them law and land-right, and they were fain rather 
to obey his kingdom than that of the Swede-king,, 
inasmuch as they were come of Norwegian kin ; 
and this all the Helsings did who were sprung 
from folk living north of the Keel ; and this pre- 
vailed for a long time afterward, right until King^ 

CXLVII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 277 

Olaf the Thick and Olaf the Swede-king strove 
over the boundaries of their lands, and sithence the 
lamtlanders and the Helsinglanders turned to the 
dominion of the Swede-king ; and therewith Eid- 
wood made the land-sundering from the east, and 
then the Keels all the way north to Finmark ; so 
then the Swede-king took scat of Helsingland and 
of lamdand as well. But Olaf, Norway's king, held 
that it had been in the covenant between him and 
the King of Sweden, that the scat of lamtland 
should go elsewhere than it had done heretofore, 
notwithstanding that for a long while the matter 
had stood so, that the lamts had yolden scat to 
the Swede-king and that the bailiffs of the land 
had been appointed thence. But the Swedes 
would as then hearken to nought, but that all land 
lying east of the Keels should lie under the sway 
of the King of Sweden. And that went so, as oft 
is seen, that, in spite of the affinity and friendship 
there was between the kings, each wanted to have 
all that dominion to which he deemed he had any 
title at all. King Olaf had let the word go abroad 
in lamtland that it was his will that the lamts 
should do him fealty, and had threatened them 
with hard dealings otherwise. But the lamts had 
made up their mind that they would yield obe- 
dience to the King of Sweden. 

278 The Saga Library. CXLVIII 


THOROD, son of Snorri, and Stein, the 
son of Skapti, were ill content at not 
being allowed to go about in freedom. 
Stein, son of Skapti, was the goodliest of men to 
look upon, and the best fashioned of prowess, a 
good skald, and a man of great show and yearning 
for honours. Skapti, his father, had wrought a 
drapa on King Olaf, and taught it to Stein, and 
it was so meant that he should brines Kine Olaf 
the song. Stein nowise kept himself tongue-tied 
in speaking out and finding fault with King Olaf,. 
both in speech loose and in speech up-knitted. 
Both of them, he and Thorod, were men unwary 
of words, and they say so much as that the king's 
will was to deal worse with them than they had 
weened, who in trust of him had sent him their sons ; 
whereas the king laid them in bondage. The king 
was wroth. Now on a day whenas Stein Skaptison 
was before the king, he asked the king to say 
whether he would listen to the drapa which his 
father, Skapti, had wrought on the king. 

He answered : " The other thing must be first. 
Stein, that that thou give forth that which thou 
hast wrought on me." Stein said it was nothing 
that he had wrought. " I am not a skald, king,"' 
says he; "but though I could make rhymes, thou 
wouldst deem that, as other matters concerning 
me, but of little account." And therewithal Stein 
went away, and deemed he saw whereto the king 
was speaking. 

CXLVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 279 

Thorgeir was the name of a steward of the 
king's who was over a manor of his in Orkdale ; 
at this time he was with the king, and heard the 
talk between the king and Stein, and a Httle after 
he went home. 

Now on a night it befell that Stein ran away 
from the town together with his servant. They 
went out upon Gauledge, and so westward till 
they came into Orkdale ; and that evening they 
came to the king's manor that Thorgeir had in 
charge, and Thorgeir bade Stein abide there for 
the night, and asked him what was toward in his 
farings. Stein bade him let him have a horse and 
a sleigh ; for he saw that they were carting home 
corn there. Thorgeir said : " I do not know how 
it stands with this journey of thine, whether thou 
farest at all by the king's leave ; for methought 
the day before yesterday words nowise meek went 
between thee and the king." 

Stein said : " Though I have to look for no 
free will from the king, that shall not be so before 
his thralls." And therewith he drew his sword and 
slew the steward. And the horse he took and 
bade the swain jump aback of it, and Stein set 
him in the sleigh, and so they went their way and 
drove through the whole night, and they went 
their ways till they came down into Sorreldale in 
Mere. Then they got themselves ferried across 
the firths, and at their very swiftest they sped on. 
They told no men where they came of this man- 
slaughter, but said they were the king's men ; and 
therefore they were well furthered wheresoever 
they came. 

28o The Saga Library. CXLVIII 

At eve of a day they came into Gizki to the 
house of Thorberg Arnison. He was not at home, 
but there was his wife, to wit, Ragnhild, the 
daughter of Eding Skialgson. And Stein had 
here a good welcome, for between them there was 
already close acquaintance. It had happened be- 
fore, in Stein's faring abroad from Iceland in a 
ship which he owned himself, when he hove in 
from the main to the western coast of Gizki, and 
he and his were lying by the island, that Ragnhild 
lay in and should be lighter of a child, and was 
heavy with sickness ; but no priest was there in 
the island nor anywhere anigh. So they came to 
the cheaping-ship, asking if there were any priest 
aboard. A priest there was, hight Bard, a man of 
the Westfirths, young, but somewhat little of lore. 
The messengers bade the priest go with them 
to the house. He deemed that that would be 
a mickle hard matter, for he knew his lack of 
learning, so he would not go. Then Stein laid 
word on the priest, and bade him go. The 
priest answereth : " I will go if thou goest with 
me, for therein I deem I shall have avail for good 
counsel." Stein said that he would surely share 
him that. Then they go to the stead, and thereto 
where Ragnhild was. 

A little sithence she gave birth to a child, which 
was a maiden and was deemed to be somewhat 
weakly. So the priest christened the child, and 
Stein held her at the font, and the maiden was 
hight Thora. Stein gave the maiden a finger-ring. 
Ragnhild behight Stein her full friendship, and bade 
him come thither to her, whensoever he deemed 

CXLVIII The Story of Ola f the Holy. 281 

he had need of her help. Stein said that he would 
hold no more maiden bairns at the font, and there- 
with they parted. 

But now were things come to such a pass, that 
Stein was come there to claim the keeping of this 
friendly promise of Ragnhild, and tells her what 
has befallen him, and therewith, that he must have 
fallen under the king's anger. She answers that 
her might and main would be in her help ; but 
bade him abide Thorberg there. She seated him 
next to her son, Eystein Blackcock, who was then 
twelve winters old. Stein gave gifts to Ragnhild 
and Eystein. 

Thorberg had heard all concerning the faring of 
Stein before he came home, and somewhat frown- 
ing was he. Ragnhild went to talk with him, and 
told him all about Stein's farings, and bade him 
take Stein to him and look to his case. Thorberg 
answers : " I have heard," says he, " that the king 
has let hold an Arrow-Thing after Thorgeir, and 
that Stein has been made an outlaw, and also this, 
that the king is exceeding wroth. Now I know 
better how to look to what behoves me than to take 
on hand but an outland man and have the wrath of 
the king therefor. Let ye Stein fare away at his 
speediest." Ragnhild answers and says that they 
would either both fare away together, or both 
abide there. Thorberg bade her go whithersoever 
she would. " For I ween," says he, " that though 
thou fare, thou wilt speedily come back, for here 
will be thy most honour." Then stood forth Eystein 
Blackcock their son ; he spake and said thus, that 
he would not abide behind if Ragnhild fared away. 

282 llie Saga Library. CXLVIII 

Thorberg said they showed them mickle wilful and 
headstrong in this matter : "And it is most like now 
that ye will have your way in this, since ye set all 
this great store by it ; but thou walkest far too 
much in the way of thy kin, Ragnhild, whereas 
thou holdest the word of King Olaf as of little 

Ragnhild said : " If it be such a big thing in 
thine eyes, this holding of Stein, then fare thou 
thyself with him to find Erling my father, or give 
him such a faring-mate that he may get thither 
in peace." 

Thorberg says that he will not send Stein 
thither ; for Erling will have enough on his hands 
that the king will mislike him of. 

So Stein abode there the winter through. But 
after Yule there came to Thorberg messengers from 
the king, with these words, that Thorberg should 
come meet the king before Midlent ; and threats of 
sore pains went with this word. Thorberg bore 
this before his friends, and sought their rede 
whether he should risk it, to go to the king as 
things now stood ; but the greater part of them 
letted it, and called that rede rather, that he should 
let Stein go out of hand, rather than fare into the 
king's power. But Thorberg was rather minded 
not to lay the journey under his head. 

Some while after Thorberg went to see Finn, 
his brother, and laid this matter before him, and 
bade him fare with him. Finn answers that he 
deemed such wife-mastery evil, whereby one should 
not dare for his wife's sake to hold faith with his 
liege lord. Says Thorberg : " Thou art free not 

CXLVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 283 

to go, yet methlnks thou hangest back more for 
fear-sake than out of goodwill to the king." And 
they parted wroth. 

Then Thorberg went to see Ami Arnison, his 
brother, and tells him all, how things were, and bade 
him fare with him to the king. Arni says : " Won- 
drous methinketh it of thee, so wise a man and so 
heedful of thy ways, that thou shouldst ever have 
tumbled into so great a mishap, and have gotten 
the king's wrath, when no need was thereto. Thou 
wert excused if thou wert holding thy kinsman or 
a fosterbrother, but nought at all wherein thou hast 
taken in hand an Iceland man, and boldest the 
king's outlaw, and hast put thyself in peril, and 
all thy kinsmen." Says Thorberg : " So goes the 
saw. Every ilk has an outcast. That illhap of my 
father is easiest seen of me, how he blundered in 
the getting of his sons, that he should get him last, 
who hath no like of our kindred and is but deedless ; 
and most true it would be to say, if it were not 
spoken to the shame of my mother, that I should 
never call thee our brother." And Thorberg turned 
away and went home somewhat joyless. There- 
after he sent word north to Thrandheim to his 
brother Kalf, bidding him to come and meet him 
at Agdaness. And when the messengers met 
Kalf, he behight his faring without another word. 

Ragnhild sent men east to Jadar to Erling her 
father, and bade him send her folk. And thence 
fared the sons of Erling, Sigurd and Thorir, and 
had each of them a craft of twenty benches, and 
thereon ninety men. And when they came north 
to Thorberg, he welcomed them at his best and 

2 84 The Saga L ibrary. C X L V III 

falnest. He arrayed him for the journey, and had 
a craft of twenty benches, and they went their way 

And when they came off Thrandheim mouth, 
there were lying there already the brothers of 
Thorberg, Finn and Arni, with two twenty- 
benched craft. Thorberg welcomed well his 
brethren, and said that now had the whetting come 
home to them. Finn said that for him seldom had 
he need of such whetting. 

Thereupon they went with all that band north 
to Thrandheim, and Stein was in their company. 
And when they came to Agdaness, there was 
before them Kalf Arnison, with a keel of twenty 
benches well manned. 

Fared they with all this host in to Nidholm, and 
lay there over night. The next morning had they 
their talk. Kalf and the sons of Erling would 
bring all the host up to the town, and then let 
things go as shaping should. But Thorberg would 
that at first they should go to work quietly, and let 
bid terms. Hereto were Finn and Arni consenting. 
So now it was settled that Finn and Arni fare first 
to see King Olaf, but a few together. 

The king had already heard of the throng they 
had, and he was rather cross-grained in his talk 
with them. Finn bade bidding for Thorberg, and 
for Stein withal ; he bade that the king should 
award as great a fine as he wished, but Thorberg 
to have dwelling in the land, and his grants, and 
Stein to have peace of life and limb. 

The king answers : *' Meseemeth that ye have 
made this journey from home in such wise, that now 

CXLVIII The Story of Ola f the Holy. 285 

ye deem ye may have your will half-way against me, 
or more maybe ; but for this do I least look from you 
brethren, that ye would come with an host against 
me. I ken these counsels, that they will have been' 
uphoven by the men of Jadar ; but no need there 
is to offer me money." 

Then says Finn : " Nought have we brethren 
had a gathering for this sake, that we bid thee 
unpeace, king; rather this way beareth it, king, that 
we will first bid thee our service ; but if thou nay- 
say it, and art minded for hard dealings on Thor- 
berg, then will we all fare with that host we have, 
and join Knut the Rich." 

Then the king looked on him and said : " If ye 
brethren will swear me oath hereto, to follow me in 
the land and out of the land, and not to sunder 
from me without my goodwill and leave, and ye 
will not hide it from me if ye wot of treason 
brewed against me, then will I take peace of you 

Then Finn went back to his company, and told 
them the terms the king had made them. So they 
take counsel together, and Thorberg said that he 
will take this choice for his hand : " Loth am I," 
says he, " to flee from my own lands and seek to 
outland lords, I am minded that to me will honour 
ever be toward in the following of King Olaf, and 
to be there whereas he is." 

Then said Kalf : " I will win no oath to the 
king, and hat while only will I be with him 
whereas I may hold my grants and other honours, 
and whereas the king will be my friend ; and that 
is my will that all we do even so." 

286 The Saga Library. CXLIX 

Finn answers : " My counsel it is to let King 
Olaf alone settle terms between us." 

Ami Arnison sayeth thus : " If I have made up 
my mind to follow thee, brother Thorberg, even if 
thou wouldst fight with the king, all the less shall I 
sunder from thee, if thou follow better rede. I will 
follow thee and Finn, and take such choice as ye 
see handiest for you." 

Then those three brethren went aboard one ship, 
Thorberg, Finn, and Arni, and rowed up to the 
town, and went sithence to meet the king. And 
then this covenant came about, that the brethren 
swore oath to the king. Then Thorberg sought 
peace for Stein of the king. But the king answered 
that Stein should go in peace as for him whitherso- 
ever he would. " But with me shall he never be 

Then Thorberg and his went back out to their 
company. Kalf fared up to Eggja, but Finn fared 
unto the king ; Thorberg and the others of the 
company went home again south. Stein went 
south with the sons of Erling. But early in the 
spring he fared west to England, and thereafter 
into the hand of Knut the Rich, and was for a long 
while with him in 2food likino-. 


WHEN AS Finn Arnison had tarried 
for a little while with King Olaf, it 
happened on a day that the king called 
Finn to him for a talk, and more men thereto, 

CXLIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 287 

whom he was wont to have in his counsels. Then 
the king took up the word and said : " That rede 
is growing fast in my mind, that I am minded to 
bid out an hosting of the whole land next spring, 
both men and ships, and fare therewithal, with all 
the host that I may get me, against Knut the Rich. 
For I wot of that claim which he hath set forth 
for the realm at my hands, that he will not deal with 
it as a vain matter. Now I have this to say to thee, 
Finn Arnison, that I will that thou fare mine errand 
north to Halogaland, and bid out an hosting there, 
and call out all the folk, both men and ships, and 
take with thee that host to meet me at Agdaness." 

Then the king named for like errands other 
men, sending some up into Inner Thrandheim and 
some south into the land, so that this summons he 
let fare throughout the whole realm. 

Now this is to be said of Finn's journey, that he 
had a cutter, and thereon wellnigh thirty men ; and 
when he was arrayed, he went on his journey till 
he came into Halogaland. Then he summoned a 
Thing of the bonders and set forth his errand, and 
craved the muster. The bonders had in the 
country big ships fit for war-muster, and at the 
word-sending of the king they bestirred them and 
arrayed their ships. But when Finn came farther 
north into Halogaland, he held there a Thing, but 
sent some of his men whereas it seemed good to 
him to crave the out-gathering. Finn sent men 
to Birchisle to Thorir Hound, and let crave the 
muster there as elsewhere. And when the bid- 
ding of the king came to Thorir, he arrayed him- 
self for journeying, and manned that same ship 

288 Tlie Saga Library. CXLIX 

with his house-carles which he had had to Biarm- 
land the summer before ; and he bedight it at his 
own cost alone. 

Finn summoned to Vagar all such Halogaland 
folk as dwelt to the north of that place ; and there 
gathered together a great host through the spring, 
and all abode such time as Finn should come 
from the north. 

And therewithal was come Thorir Hound. 

And when Finn came, forthwith he let blow all 
the mustered host to a House-Thing. At that 
Thing men showed their weapons, and then the 
muster of each ship-rathe was ransacked. 

But when all that was cleared, spoke Finn : " I 
will call on thee hereto, Thorir Hound ; what 
bidding wilt thou bid King Olaf for the slaying of 
Karli his courtman ; or for that robbery whereby 
thou tookest the king's gear north away in Long- 
wick ? Now the full power of the king have I 
in this matter ; and now will I have thine 

Thorir looked about and saw standing on either 
side of him men full-weaponed, and knew Gunn- 
stein there, and a many other kinsmen of Karli. 
Then said Thorir : " My offer is quickly done, 
Finn ; I will lay all this matter for which he bears 
me mispleasure under the king's wielding." 

Finn answers : " More likely now, that thou 
wilt be honoured less than that, for now thou must 
abide my doom, if peace is to be made." 

Thorir says : " Then I still deem my affair in a 
good case, and for that shall I nowise draw aback." 

Then Thorir stepped forward to give surety, 

CXLIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 289 

and Finn framed the terms of all that matter. 
Then Finn says out the peace, to wit, that Thorir 
shall yield the king ten marks of gold, and to 
Gunnstein and his kinsmen another ten marks, 
and for robbery and fee-scathe the third ten 
marks, " and yield it now forthwith," says he. 

Thorir says : " This is a great fine to find." 

" The other the choice is," says Finn, " that the 
peace be all done with." 

Thorir says that Finn must give him time to 
seek loans from his fellows. Finn bade him yield 
the fine on the place, and give up withal the collar, 
the mickle one, which he took off Karli dead. 
Thorir said he had taken no collar. 

Then came forth Gunnstein and said that Karli 
had had the collar round his neck when they 
parted, " but it was gone when we took up his dead 
body." Thorir said he had not searched his mind 
about that collar. " But though we should have 
some collar or other, it must be lying at home in 

Then set Finn his spear-point against Thorir's 
breast, and bade him hand over the collar. There- 
with Thorir took the collar off his neck, and 
handed it over to Finn. Then Thorir turned 
away and went aboard his ship, and Finn went 
after him out on to the ship, and a many of men 
with him. Finn went along the ship, and they 
opened the berths, and by the mast they saw 
down under the deck two great tuns, so that they 
deemed mickle marvel thereof. Finn asked what 
was in those tuns, and Thorir said therein lay his 
drink. Said Finn : " Why givest thou us not to 

IV. u 

290 The Saga Library. CXLIX 

drink, good fellow, seeing thou hast so much drink 
with thee ? " Thorir ordered his man to tap the 
tun into a bowl, and then this was given to Finn 
to drink, and the best of drink it was. 

Then Finn bade Thorir hand over the money, 
and Thorir bade him go aland and said he would 
pay it there. So Finn and his men went up aland. 
Then came there Thorir and paid the silver, and 
out of one purse there was handed ten marks by 
weight. Then he put forth many knit-up clouts ; 
and in some was a mark by weight, in some half, 
or sundry ounces. 

Then said Thorir : *' This is borrowed money 
which sundry folk have lent me, for methinks 
all upcast now is the loose money which I had." 

Thereafter Thorir went on board ship, and 
when he came back he paid out silver little by 
little, and thus the day wore. 

But when the Thing broke up, men went to 
their ships and arrayed them for putting off, and 
under sail men got so soon as they were ready ; 
and soon it came to this, that most men had sailed. 
So Finn saw this, that the company was thinning 
about him, and men called to him and bade him 
get ready ; but not one-third of the money was 
paid up as yet. 

Then said Finn : *' This payment goes slowly 
now, Thorir. I see thou takest it greatly to heart 
to pay the money ; so I shall leave the matter in 
quiet for a while, and thou canst pay to the king 
what is left." Therewith Finn stood up and went 

Thorir says : " I am well pleased, Finn, that we 

C X LI X The Story of Olaf the Holy. 29 1 

part ; but I shall have right goodwill to pay this 
debt in such wise that the king shall deem it not 
under-paid, yea, and both of you." 

So then Finn went to his ship and sailed after his 
company. But Thorir was late boun from the haven, 
but when their sail came up they held out of West- 
firth, and so out into the main, and so south along the 
land, in such wise that whiles was the sea on mid- 
mountain, whiles the land under water. Thuswise 
he steered on southwards, until he sailed into 
England's main ; and he fared therewith to see 
King Knut, who gave him a good welcome. And 
now it came out that Thorir had there right much 
of chattels, all that wealth, to wit, which they had 
taken in Biarmland, he and Karli, with their men. 
But in those mickle tuns there was one bottom a 
little way from the other ; and betwixt the two was 
drink, but the rest of either tun was full of grey 
skins, and beaver, and sable. And now Thorir was 
with King Knut. 

Finn Arnison fared with that host to King Olaf, 
and tells him all about his journey, and this withal, 
that he doubts Thorir was gone out of the land and 
west away to England to meet Knut the Rich, 
" and I am of the mind that he will be all unprofit- 
able to us." The king says : " I well believe that 
Thorir will be our unfriend, yet ever I deem him 
better afar from me than anigh." 

292 The Saga Library. CL 


ASMUND, son of Grankel, had been that 
winter in his bailiwick in Halogaland, and 
was at home with his father GrankeL 
There Heth out towards the main a haunt where 
was to catch both seal and fowl, an egg-lair and 
fish-lair withal ; and this had of old gone with the 
stead now owned of Grankel. But Harek of 
Thiotta laid claim to the same, and to such a pass 
matters had come, that he had had of the lair all 
gain for several seasons. But now Asmund and 
his father deemed they might fall back upon the 
king's avail in all rightful causes. And so they 
fared, the twain of them, in the spring to see 
Harek and tell him King Olaf's words and tokens, 
to the end that Harek should leave off laying 
claim to the lair. Harek answered heavily thereon 
and said that Asmund went to the king with 
slander in this, as in other matters : '* I have all 
the right on my side ; and thou, Asmund, mightest 
well mind thee of measure, though now thou deem 
thee a man much of might, because thou hast the 
king's avail at thy back. And so is it, forsooth, if 
thou shalt be allowed to slay sundry chieftains and 
make of them men out of atonement, and to rob us, 
who whiles deemed we knew how to hold our own 
fully against men, even were they of equal birth with 
us ; but now is that all far from it, that ye are mine 
equals for kin sake." Asmund answers : " This 
know a many of thee, Harek, that thou art of great 

CL The Story of Olaf the Holy. 293 

kin and masterful ; a many sit over a sharded lot 
because of thee ; yet it is most like that thou, 
Harek, must seek another whereon to push forth 
thy wrong-dealings than on us, or to take up thy 
so great lawlessness." 

Thereupon they parted. Harek sent his house- 
carles, ten or twelve of them, with a certain great 
row-ferry. They fared into the lair and took there 
every sort of catch and loaded the ferry therewith. 
But when they were ready to go back, there came 
on them Asmund Grankelson with thirty men and 
bade them let loose all that catch. Harek's 
house-carles answered somewhat unspeedily there- 
over, so Asmund and his set upon them, and soon 
the odds told their tale : some of Harek's house- 
carles were beaten, some wounded, some cast into 
the deep ; and all the catch was borne out of their 
ship, and Asmund and his had it away with them. 

In this plight the house-carles of Harek came 
home and told Harek of their journey. He 
answers : " New doings, new tidings ; this has not 
been done before, the beating of my men." 

But this matter lay quiet, and Harek said never 
a word thereto and was of the merriest. 

In the spring Harek let array a cutter of twenty 
benches, and manned it with his house-carles ; and 
right well found was that ship both of men and 
all gear. 

This spring Harek went into the warfare ; but 
when he met King Olaf, Asmund Grankelson was 
there already. Then the king brought about a 
meeting between Harek and Asmund, and appeased 
them ; and the case was laid to the king's doom. 

294 ^-^^^ Saga Library. CLI 

Then Asmund let call witness that Grankel had 
been owner of the lair, and the king doomed 
thereafter. And then the cases stood uneven, so 
that the house-carles of Harek were unbooted, and 
the lair was doomed to Grankel. Harek says it 
was no shame for him to abide by the king's judg- 
ment, however this matter might shape itself after- 


THOROD, the son of Snorri, had tarried in 
Norway by the command of King Olaf 
when Gellir Thorkelson got leave to go 
to Iceland, as is aforewrit ; and he was with King 
Olaf, and was ill content at abiding in such un- 
freedom, whereas he might not fare his ways 
whither he would. 

Early in the winter whereas King Olaf sat in 
Nidoyce, the king made it known that he was 
minded to send men to lamtland to gather the scat. 
But for this journey folk were uneager, because 
the messengers of King Olaf which he had sent 
before, Thrand the White, to wit, and they twelve 
together, had been cut off, as is written afore, and 
from that time the lamtlanders had held to the 
Swede-king as their liege lord. Thorod Snorrison 
offered himself for this journey, whereas he recked 
but little what might befall him so he were free of 
his ways. The king took his offer, and they went 
twelve in company, Thorod and his. 

So they came right east away to lamtland, and 

CLI TJie Story of Olaf the Holy. 295 

came to a man named Thorar. He was lawman 
there, and the most of honour. Here they had a good 
welcome, and when they had been abiding there a 
little while, they set forth their errands to Thorar. 
He said that the answers thereto were ruled no less 
by other folk of the land, and by chieftains than 
by him, but said that a Thing ought to be summoned. 
And so it was done : a Thing-bidding was up- 
shorn, and a crowded Thing was summoned, 
and Thorar fared to the Thing ; but the king's 
messengers abode at his house the while. Thorar 
set this matter forth to the people ; but they were 
all of one mind on this, that they would not pay 
scat to the King of Norway. The messengers 
some would have hanged, and others would have 
them for blood-offering ; but it was settled that 
they should be held there until the bailiffs of the 
Swede-king should be coming, and these should 
determine concerning them what they would, by 
the counsel of the folk of the country ; but that they 
should make a show of this, that the messengers 
being well holden, they were tarried for their 
abiding the scat, and they should part them and 
quarter them two and two together. Thorod 
was with another man at Thorar's ; and there was 
mickle Yule-feast and gild ale-drinkings. There 
were many bonders living in that thorp, and they 
all drank together through the Yule-tide. Another 
thorp there was a little way thence ; there dwelt 
a kinsman-in-law of Thorar, a mighty man and a 
wealthy. He had a son full grown. These kins- 
men-in-law were to drink half- Yule at each other's, 
beginning at Thorar's. The kinsmen-in-law drank 

296 The Saga Library. CLI 

against each other, and Thorod against the 
bonder's son. It was a champion drinking, and 
in the evening was mickle masterful talk and man- 
pairing betwixt the Norway men and the Swedes, 
and then betwixt their kings, both those who had 
been aforetime and those who now were, and also 
about the dealings there had been betwixt both 
countries in manslayings and liftings, such as had 
befallen betwixt the two lands. 

Then spake the bonder's son : " If our kings 
have lost the more men, then the bailiffs of the 
Swede-king will square that up with the lives of 
twelve men, whenas they come from the south 
after Yule ; and ye wot unclearly, wretched men, 
whereto ye are tarried." 

Thorod thought about his case, and many 
would draw a jeer on them, and found words of 
shame for them, yea, and their king withal. And 
now It fared unhidden what the ale spake in 
the lamts, and whereof Thorod had not misdoubted 
him afore. But the next day Thorod and his man 
took all their clothes and weapons, and laid them 
ready to hand ; and the night after, when all folk 
were asleep, they ran away into the wood. 

The next morning, when men were ware of 
their running away, they fared after them with 
sleuthhounds, and happened on them in the wood 
where they had hidden them, and brought them 
back home and put them into a bower. Therein 
there was a deep pit, and thereinto they were let, 
and the door thereof locked. Little meat they 
had, and no clothes save their own. 

Now when mid- Yule was come, Thorar and all 

CLI Tfte Story of Olaf the Holy. 297 

his freedmen with him went to his kinsman-in- 
law, and there he was to drink the latter Yule ; but 
the thralls of Thorar should guard the pit. Drink 
enow was minded for them, but they measured 
their drinking but little, and became ale-mad 
straightway that same night. And when they 
deemed they were full-drunk, then spake they 
betwixt them who were to bring- food to the men 
of the pit that they should not be left short of 
food. Thorod sang a lay and made the thralls 
merry, and they said he would be a chosen man, 
and gave him a right mickle candle, which was 
lighted. Then came out thither the thralls who 
before were in the house, and called full eagerly to 
the others to come in. But either lot of them was 
ale-mad, so that they neither locked the pit nor 
the bower. Then Thorod and his fellow cut their 
cloaks up into ropes, and tied them together, and 
made a ball of the end, and cast it up on to the 
outhouse floor ; and it twisted round the foot of a 
chest and stuck fast. Then they tried to get up ; 
and Thorod lifted his fellow up until he stood on 
his shoulders, who then drew himself up hand 
over hand through the trap-door. And now there 
was no lack of ropes in the outhouse, and he let 
one drop down to Thorod. But when he was to 
haul Thorod up he might nowise get him astir. 
Then Thorod bade him cast the rope over the 
tie-beam which was in the house, and make a loop 
at the end and carry thereto timbers and stones, 
so as to outweigh the weight of him. He did 
even so. And then the weight sank down into 
the pit, and Thorod came up out of it. In the 

298 The Saga Library. CLI 

outhouse they took raiment for themselves such 
as they needed ; therein were sundry skins of 
reindeer, and they cut the shanks thereof, and 
bound them turned toe-to-heel under their feet. 
But before they fared away they set fire to a great 
corn-barn which there was, and then ran away 
amidst the pit-mirk. The barn was burnt up, and 
many other houses in the thorp withal. 

Thorod and his fellow fared through the wilder- 
ness all that night, and hid themselves at dawn of 
day. In the morning they were missed, and folk 
went with sleuthhounds to seek them, every 
quarter away from the stead ; but the hounds 
tracked their steps back to the stead, for they 
knew them by the reindeer-shanks, and tracked 
the slot thither whereto pointed the hoofs of the 
shanks ; so that they might not be searched out. 

Thorod and his fellow wandered through wilder- 
nesses for a long while, and came on an evening 
to a little homestead and walked inside. Within 
there sat a carle and a quean by the fire ; he named 
him Thorir, and said she was his wife who was 
sitting there, and withal that they owned the 
house-cot. The goodman bade them abide, and they 
took his bidding. He told them that thither was he 
come because he had had to flee from the dwell- 
ing for slaying's sake. Good cheer was gotten 
for Thorod and his man, and they all ate their 
meat round the fire. Then a bed was arrayed for 
Thorod and his man there on the settle, and 
they laid them down to sleep. 

That while the fire was yet aflame. Thorod 
then saw that from another chamber came forth a 

C LI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 299 

man, and never had he seen a man like big. That 
man had on raiment of gold-broidered scarlet, and 
was of the goodhest to behold. Thorod heard 
that he blamed them for taking guests, when they 
had scarce meat enough to bless themselves withal. 
The housewife said : "Be not wroth, brother, 
seldom doth such a chance befall : do them rather 
something that may be to their profit, for thou art 
handier thereto than we be." 

Thorod heard that the big man was named 
Arnliot Gellini, and also that the goodwife was 
his sister. Thorod had heard tell of Arnliot, and 
of this, moreover, that he was the greatest way- 
besetter and evildoer. 

So Thorod and his man slept night over,^ for 
they were weary afore of their much walking. 
But when about one-third of the night was still left, 
thither came Arnliot and bade them stand up 
and array them for their journey. So Thorod and 
his man stood up and arrayed them, and break- 
fast was served them. Then Thorir gave snow- 
shoes to either of them, and Arnliot betook him- 
self to faring with them, and strode on the snow- 
shoes, which were both broad and long. But so 
soon as Arnliot plied his staff, he was off and afar 
from them. Then abided he, and said that in this 
wise they would get no-whither, and bade them 
step on the snowshoes along with him ; and so 
did they ; and Thorod stood next to Arnliot and 
held by his belt, while Thorod's fellow held on to 
him. Then Arnliot slid on as fast as if he were 
faring loose. 

Now when one-third of the night was spent, 

300 The Saga Library. CLI 

they came to a certain hostel, and made fire there, 
and dight their meat. But whenas they were at 
meat then spake ArnHot, and bade them cast 
down nought of the meat, neither bone nor crumb. 
ArnHot took out of his sark a silver dish, and ate 
therefrom. But when they were full, Arnliot 
gathered their leavings together, and thereupon 
they got ready for their beds. 

At one end of the house there was a loft on the 
tie-beams, and up into that loft went Arnliot and 
the others, and there they laid them down to sleep. 
Arnliot had a mickle bill, the socket whereof was 
gold-driven, but its shaft was so high that one's 
hand could but just reach to the socket, and he was 
girt with a sword withal. They had both weapons 
and raiment up there in the loft with them. 

Arnliot bade them hold their peace. He lay the 
foremost of them in the loft. 

A little afterwards there came twelve men to 
the house ; they were chapmen, who were faring 
to lamtland with their wares. When they came 
into the house they made mickle din about there, 
and were very merry, and they made them big 
fires. But when they had their meat they cast 
out all the bones. Thereafter they got them ready 
for bed, and lay down on a settle before the fire 
there. But when they had sat there for a little 
while there came into the house a mickle troll-wife ; 
and whenas she came in, she swept up fast, and 
took the bones and all things she deemed good to 
eat and cast them into her mouth. Then she seized 
the man that lay next to her, and tore and slit him 
all asunder, and cast him unto the fire. Then 

CLI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 301 

awoke the others to an evil dream forsooth, and 
leapt up. But she sent them to hell one after 
other, till only one was left alive ; and he rushed 
up the floor under the loft, calling out for help if 
any were thereto in the loft who might be of avail 
to him. Arnliot stretched out his hand for him, 
and caught him by the shoulder and drew him up 
into the loft. Then she ran up to the fire and fell 
to eating of the men, those who were roasted. 
Then stood Arnliot up and gripped his bill, and 
thrust it between her shoulders so that the point 
ran out through the chest. She turned her hard 
thereat, and cried out evilly and ran out. Arnliot 
lost the hold of the spear, and she had it away 
with her. Then Arnliot bestirred himself and 
cleared out the bodies of the men, and set a door 
and door-posts before the hall, for she had broken 
it all loose when she went out. 

And now they slept for what was left of the 
night. But when day dawned, they stood up and 
first ate their day-meal ; and when they had 
eaten, Arnliot said : " Now shall we part here : ye 
shall follow this sledge-road whereby the merchants 
fared hither yesterday ; but I will seek my spear. 
For my wages I shall take what I deem of money's 
worth among the chattels which these men owned. 
But thou, Thorod, shalt bear my greeting to King 
Olaf, and tell him this, that he is the man of all 
men whom I were fainest to meet ; but he will 
deem my greeting nothing worth." 

Therewith he took up the silver dish and 
rubbed it with a cloth and said : " Bring this dish 
to the king and say that it is my greeting." 

302 The Saga Library. CLII 

Thereafter either of them got ready for the journey 
and parted, even as things were. And Thorod 
and his fellow, and the man withal^ out of the 
company of the merchants who had escaped alive, 
went each his own way ; and Thorod went on 
until he met King Olaf in Chippingham, when he 
told him all about his journeys and brought him 
the greeting of Arnliot, and handed over to him 
the silver dish. The king says that it was ill that 
Arnliot should not have come to see him, "and it is 
a great scathe that so good a fellow and a man so 
noteworthy should have fallen into such evil ways." 
After this Thorod abode with King Olaf for 
the rest of the winter, and sithence got leave of 
him to fare to Iceland next summer. He and 
King Olaf parted in friendship as at that time. 


IN the spring King Olaf got ready to leave 
Nidoyce ; and mickle company drew together 
to him both from the parts of Thrandheim 
and withal from the North-country. And when he 
was boun for faring, he went with his host first 
south into Mere, and gathered together thence his 
folk-company, and also out of Raumdale. Then 
he went to South Mere, and a long while he lay in 
Her-isles, and abode his folk, and that while oft 
had he House-Things, for there many matters came 
to his ears which he deemed needed talking over. 
It befell at one of the House-Things which he held, 
that he had that speech in his mouth, and spake of 

CLII The Sto}y of Olaf the Holy. 303 

that manscathe which he had gotten of the Faroes. 
" But the scat which they behote me is nowise 
forthcoming. Now I am minded to send men 
thither for the scat once more." 

And the king stirred this matter to sundry men 
that they should betake them to the journey. But 
there came such answers in return, whereby all 
begged off from that journey. Then stood up a 
man in the Thing, a mickle man, and very stately of 
look : he had on a red kirtle, helm on head, girt 
with sword, a mickle bill in his hand. He took up 
the word : " Sooth is it to say," quoth he, " that 
here is wide diversity of men. Ye ha,ve a good 
king, but he hath ill men, who naysay a mere 
errand-faring which he biddeth you, though ye 
have ere this taken at his hands friendly gifts and 
many seemly things. But I have been hitherto no 
friend of this king, and he hath been my unfriend ; 
and he deemeth there be good causes hereunto. 
Now I will offer thee, king, to fare this faring if no 
better man be thereto forthcoming." 

The king answereth : " Who is this valiant man 
who answereth thus to my cause ? Thou makest 
thee wide apart from other men who are here, 
whereas thou offerest thee for this faring and they 
excused them thereof, of whom I deemed that 
they would well have buckled thereto. But I 
can nought of thee, nor wot I even thy name." 

He answereth thus : " My name is nought far 
to seek, king ; meweeneth thou wilt have heard 
me named : I am called Karl o' Mere." 

The king answereth : " So it is, Karl, that I 
have heard thee named afore ; and, sooth to say, 

304 The Saga Library. CLIII 

time has been when, if we had come together, thou 
wouldst not have known how to tell the tidings 
thereof. But now I will not have so much the 
worser part than thou, since thou offerest me thine 
aid, as not to return thee therefor my thanks and 
favour. Therefore, Karl, thou shalt come to me 
and be my guest to-day, and then we will talk this 
matter out." Karl says it should be so. 


KARL O' MERE had been a viking and 
the greatest of lifters, and oft had the 
king set men upon him, and would take 
the life of him. But Karl was a man of great kin, 
a man of mickle stir, a man of prowess and doughty 
in many matters. 

But now when Karl had bound him to this 
journey, the king took him into his peace and 
thereafter into his good love, and let array his 
journey in the best wise. Nigh twenty men they 
were on board the ship. The king made word 
to his friends in the Faroes, and sent Karl for 
trust and troth to Leif, son of Ozur, and Gilli 
the Speaker-at-law, and to that end he sent his 
tokens. Karl fared forthwith when he was ready, 
and a fair wind they had, and came to Faroe, and 
hove into Thorshaven in Stream-isle. Then a 
Thing was summoned there, and folk came 
thronging thereto. Thither came Thrand o' Gate 
with a mickle flock, and thereto came Leif and 
Gilli, and had with them a multitude of people. 

C L 1 1 1 The Story of Olaf the Holy . 305 

Now when they set up their tilts and dight them 
their booths there, they went to see Karl o' Mere, 
and the greetings there were good. Then Karl bore 
forth to Gilli and Leif King Olaf s word and tokens, 
and his tale of friendship, and that they took well, 
bidding Karl to them, and offering him to flit his 
errand, and to give him whatsoever avail they had 
might to, and this he took thankfully. A little 
after came Thrand thereto and greeted Karl well. 
" Fain am I," said he, " that such a true man has 
come hither to our land with our king's errand, the 
which we be all bound to further. Nought will 
I, Karl, but that thou fare to me for winter-dwelling, 
and therewithal that of thy company which would 
make thine honour greater than afore." 

Karl answers that he had already settled to 
fare to Leif ; " otherwise," says he, " I were fain to 
have taken this bidding." 

Thrand answers : " Then must Leif be fated to 
great worship hereof; but are there any other 
matters that I may do, wherein were furtherance to 
thee ? " 

Karl answers that he should deem it a great 
aid if Thrand would fetch in the scat throughout 
East-isle, and all the North-isles. 

Thrand said it was due and welcome that he 
should give that much furtherance to the king's 
errand. Then Thrand goeth back to his booth ; 
and at this Thing was nought more whereof to tell 
tidings. Karl fared to guesting with Leif Ozurson, 
and abode there the winter after. Leif fetched in 
the scat from out of Stream-isle and all the isles 
to the south thereof. 

IV. X 

3o6 The Saga Library. CLIII 

The next spring Thrand o' Gate gat failing 
health ; he had pains in the eyes and other ailments 
besides, yet he got him ready to fare to the Thing 
after his wont. And when he came to the Thing- 
and his booth was tilted, he let hang the inner part 
thereof with black cloth, for this sake, that the day- 
light might be less dazzling. But when some days 
were worn of the Thing, Leif and Karl went to the 
booth of Thrand, and had a great company ; and 
whenas they came to the booth, there stood with- 
out certain men. Leif asked if Thrand were within 
the booth ; they said he was there. Leif asked 
them to bid Thrand come out ; " I and Karl have 
an errand with him," says he. But when these 
men came out again, they said that Thrand had 
such pain in his eyes that he might not go out, 
"and he bade thee, Leif, to go in." 

Leif spoke to his fellows and bade them fare 
warily when they came within the booth, and not 
to throng together : "and let him go out first who 
last goeth in." 

Leif went in first, and Karl next, and then his 
fellows, and they went fully weaponed, as if they 
must needs array them for battle. Leif went up 
to the black hangings, and there asked where was 
Thrand. Thrand answered and greeted Leif. 
Leif took his greeting and asked sithence, if he had 
gathered any scat from the North-isles, or how 
ready he was to pay the silver. 

Thrand answered and said that never had it 
been out of his mind what he and Karl had 
spoken ; and also, that the scat would be paid 
readily enough: " Lo, Leif! Here is a purse, 

CLIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 307 

which thou shalt take, and it is full of silver." 
Leif looked about and saw few men in the booth ; 
most lay about the dais, but a few were sitting up. 
Then Leif went to Thrand and took the purse to 
him, and bore it further out into the booth, where 
it was light, and poured the silver down upon his 
shield, and stirred it about with his hand, and said 
that Karl should look at the silver. 

They looked on it for awhile, and Karl asked 
Leif, how the silver seemed to him. He answered : 
" Methinks that every bad penny to be found in 
the North-isles is here come together." Thrand 
heard this and said : " Seemeth the silver nought 
well to thee, Leif?" " Even so," says he. Said 
Thrand : " Forsooth, those my kinsmen are no 
middling dastards, whereas one may trust them in 
nought. I sent them in the spring north into the 
islands to gather up the scat, because last spring I 
was good for nothing myself ; but they will have 
taken bribes of the bonders to take this false coin 
which is not deemed fit to pass. Thou hadst better, 
Leif, look at this silver wherewith my rents have 
been paid." 

So Leif took back to him that silver, and took 
from him another purse, and bore it to Karl, and 
they ransacked it, and Karl asked what Leif 
thought of this money. He said he deemed it 
bad, but not so bad as that it might not be taken 
in payment for debts carelessly bespoken, " but on 
behalf of the king I will have nought of this money." 

A certain man, one who lay on the dais, cast a 
cloak off his head and said : " Sooth is said of old, 
'' Each irketh as he ageth ; ' and so it goes with thee, 

3o8 The Saga Library. CLIII 

Thrand, to let Karl o' Mere drive back thy money 
all day long." 

This was Gaut the Red. 

Thrand leapt up at Gaut's word, and was mad of 
speech and sore wyted his kinsmen. 

At last he bade Leif hand him that silver back : 
" And take thou here this purse which my tenants 
have fetched me home last spring, and dim of 
sight though I be, still, * Self hand the safest 
hand.' " 

A man who lay on the dais rose up on his 
elbow, Thord the Low to wit, and said : "No 
middling scoldings get we from that Mere-carle 
there ; it would be well to reward it him." 

Leif took the purse and once more bore it to 
Karl, and they looked at the money, and Leif 
spoke : " No need to look long at this silver ; 
every penny here is better than the other, and 
this money will we have. Get thee a man, Thrand, 
to look to the weighing." Thrand says that he 
would take it best that Leif should oversee it on. 
his behalf. 

So Leif and Karl went out, and a little way 
from the booth, and there sat down and weighed 
the silver. Karl took the helm off his head and 
poured into it the silver when it was weighed. 

They saw a man going beside them with a 
cudgel in his hand and a slouch-hat on his head, 
and a green cloak ; barefoot, in linen breeches 
strait-laced to the bone. He stuck the cudgel into 
the field, and went thence and said : " Look thou 
to it, Mere-carle, that thou take no hurt of my 

CLIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 309 

A little after there came a man running, and called 
out wildly to Leif Ozurson, and bade him fare at his 
swiftest to the booth of Gilli the Speaker-at-law ; 
*' for there ran in to the door of the tent Sigurd 
Thorlakson, and hurt deadly a booth - man of 

Leif stood up forthwith and went away to meet 
Gilli, and with him went all his booth-fellows. 
But Karl sat behind there, and the Eastmen stood 
in a ring about him. Gaut the Red ran up to 
them and hewed forward with a hand-axe over the 
shoulders of men, and the blow came on the head 
of Karl, and no great wound was it. But Thord 
the Low caught hold of the cudgel which stood 
stuck in the field, and smote down on the axe- 
hammer, so that the axe stood in the brain of 
Karl. And therewith a many men ran out of 
Thrand's booth, but Karl was borne away thence 

Thrand was ill pleased at this work, but bade 
money for atoning for his kinsmen. Leif and Gilli 
followed up the blood-suit ; and no fee-boot could 
be broupfht about for it. Sigfurd was outlawed for 
the wound wherewith he had wounded Gilli's booth- 
mate, and Thord and Gaut were outlawed for the 
slaying of Karl. The Eastmen arrayed the ship 
wherein Karl had come thither, and went east to 
meet King Olaf. But it came never to pass that 
King Olaf might avenge this on Thrand or his 
kinsmen, because of that unpeace which now befell 
in Norway, and whereof further on will the tale be 
told. And hereby leaves the tale to tell of the 
tidings which sprung out of King Olaf's claiming 

3 1 o The Saga L ibrary. C L I V 

scat of the Faroes. Yet later on strifes arose in 
the Faroes out of the slaying of Karl o' Mere, 
and the kinsmen of Thrand o' Gate and Leif, the 
son of Ozur, had to do herein, and great tales are 
told thereof. 


NOW is the tale to be told which afore was 
uphoven, that King Olaf had called out 
a muster of ships from all the land, and 
every landed-man from the North-country followed 
him, out-taken Einar Thambarskelfir. He had 
sat quiet at home at his manors sithence he came 
into the land, and did no service to the king. 
Einar had lands mickle broad, and held himself up 
in a stately manner, notwithstanding that he had no 
kingly fiefs. 

King Olaf made with his host south about 
Stad, and there again drew to him great host out 
of the countrysides. Then had King Olaf the 
ship which he had let make the winter before, 
and was called the Bison, the greatest of all ships. 
On its prow there was a bison-head dight in gold. 
This telleth Sigvat the Skald : 

The Ling-fish of the flight-shy, 

The Tryggvi's son, its Hp bore, 

All with the tried gold reddened. 

Unto the prey, as God willed. 

Olaf the Thick another, 

A Bison, glorious gold-dight. 

Let tread the billows over. 

Brine plenty washed the beast's horn. 

CLIV The Story of Ola f the Holy. 31 1 

Then the king went south into Hordland. 
There he heard the tidings that Eding Skialgson 
had already fared away from the land, and had a 
great company and four ships or five. He himself 
had a great swift-sailing ship of war, and his sons 
three keels of twenty benches each, and had sailed 
west to England to find Knut the Rich. So now 
King Olaf went east along the land and had a very 
great company, and held on a-speering, if men had 
any news of the journey of Knut the Rich ; and 
all men could to tell that he was in England, but 
that was said withal, that he was haviuQf an hosting 
and was minded for Norway. But inasmuch as 
King Olaf had a mickle host, and he got not true 
tidings, as to whither he should steer to meet 
Knut, and whereas his men deemed withal that it 
was ill gain to tarry long in one and the same 
place with such a great host, he made up his mind 
to sail south to Denmark with the host, and took 
with him all thereof that he deemed most fight- 
worthy and best arrayed, but gave home-leave to 
the rest ; as saith the song : 

Word-nimble Olaf urgeth 
With oars the Bison southward. 
Another king from the southland 
With dragon breaks up wave-home. 

Now fared those folk home by the following of 
which he set the lesser store ; and now King Olaf 
had a great and proud host, there being most of the 
landed-men of Norway therewith, out-taken those 
who, as is aforewrit, had either gone out of the 
jand, or sat behind at home. 

312 The Saga Library. CLV 


WHEN King Olaf sailed to Denmark 
he made for Sealand ; and when he 
came there, he fell to harrying and 
lifting, and there were the folk of the land some 
robbed, some slain, some laid hand on and bound, 
and so brought on board ship ; but all fled who 
might bring it about, and there was no with- 
standing. King Olaf did there the greatest war- 

But while King Olaf was in Sealand he heard 
tidings that King Onund Olafson had out a muster, 
and went with a great host along the eastern shore 
of Skaney and was harrying there. And now was 
laid bare that plan which King Olaf and King 
Onund had had afore in the Elf, when they made 
their bond and friendship to withstand King Knut 
both of them. King Onund fared until he met King 
Olaf his brother-in-law ; and when they met, they 
made it known, both to their own host and to the 
folk of the land, that they mean to lay Denmark 
under them, and to crave of the folk to be taken for 
liege lords of the land. But here it fared, as many 
an example proveth, that when the folk of the land 
is fallen upon by war and hath no strength to 
make a stand, most men are fain to say yea to what- 
soever may be laid upon them, if it will buy them 
peace. And so it was that many men took service 
with the kings and yeasaid them obedience ; far 
and wide where they went they laid the land under 
their sway, or else harried it. Sigvat the Skald 

CLVI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 313 

makes mention of this warfare in that drapa which 
he wrought about Kino^ Knut the Rich. 

Knut was 'neath heaven . . . — 

Deem I by hearsay 

That for kinsman of Harald 

Heart in fight helped. 

Olaf, king of the wealth-year, 

Let the host fare 

Over the fish-path. 

South out of Nid. 

Cold keels from the North-land 
With the king were a-sweeping 
To Silund the level, 
E'en so was it rumoured. 
But forth fareth Onund 
With host yet another 
Of Swedes to do battle 
Against the Dane-people. 


KING KNUT had heard west in England 
that Olaf, Norway's king, had a folk-host 
abroad, and that, withal, that he went 
with all his host to Denmark, and that unpeace 
was in his realm. Then King Knut fell to gather- 
ing folk, and speedily a mickle war-host was 
drawn together, and a multitude of ships ; and 
Earl Hakon was a second captain over that host. 
Sigvat the Skald came that summer to England 
from the west from Rouen in Valland, and together 
with him a man called Berg. They had gone 
thither on a chaffering journey the summer before. 

314 The Saga Library. CLVI 

Sigvat wrought a " flock " which was called " West- 
faring-ditties," and whereof this is the beginning : 

Berg, many a morn we minded 
How I let moor the ship-prows 
To the western wing of Rouen, 
Erst in the chapmen's faring. 

But when Sigvat came to England, he went 
straightway to see King Knut, and would ask him 
for leave to go to Norway. Now King Knut had 
laid a ban against all cheaping-ships sailing before 
he had arrayed his host. So when Sigvat came 
to him, he went to the chamber wherein was the 
king ; it was locked, and he stood a long while 
without; but when he saw the king he got the 
leave he craved, and then he sang : 

Needs must I ask from outside, 

Or ever gat I answer 

From the Jute-lord ; there beheld I 

The house-doors mailed before me. 

But Gorm's son well he locked 

Our errand in the hall there. 

Now so it is that often 

Mine arms bear sleeves of iron. 

But when Sigvat was aware that King Knut 

was arraying warfare against King Olaf,. and he 

knew how great a strength King Knut had, then 

sang Sigvat : 

The bounteous Knut, who hath out 

His whole host, he and Hakon 

Mean a doomed life for Olaf. 

For that king's death I fear me. 

Yet upheld be our warden, 

Though Knut and his earls scarce will it. 

If he get him clear, 'twere better 

Than a mote on furthest fell-side. 

CLVII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 315 

Still more rhymes Sigvat wrought about the 
journey of K nut and Hakon,and this one moreover : 

Should the famed earl be appeasing 
Olaf and those old bonders 
Who oft and oft refrained them 
From hearkening to the matter ? 
Erst have they cheapened chieftains 
Ere Hakon gat hate bounden 
For Olaf's greater peril. 
Forward are Eric's kindred. 


KNUT the Rich had arrayed his host for 
leaving the land ; he had an exceeding 
might of muster, and ships wondrously 
big; he himself had that dragon, which was so mickle 
that it told up sixty benches, and on it were heads 
gold-bedight. Earl Hakon had another dragon : 
that had a tale of forty benches ; thereon also 
were gilt heads ; but the sails of both were banded 
of blue and red and green. These ships were all 
stained above the water-line, and all the array of 
them was of the bravest. Many other ships they 
had, great and well-found. This Sigvat mentions 
in K nut's drapa : 

Knut was 'neath heaven . . . — 

Here from east fareth 

The fair and the eye-bright 

Son of a Dane-king. 

The wood from the west glode 

All glistering was it, 

Bearing the foeman 

Of Ethelred out thence. 

3 1 6 The Saga L ibrary. C L V III 

And the drakes of the land's chiefs 
Blue sails were bearing 
At yard in the breezes ; 
Dear was the king's fare. 
But those keels, a-coming 
From west away, glided 
Over the surf road 
On to the Limfirth. 

So it is said, that King Knut steered with that 
great host from the west from England, and brought 
his whole host safe and sound to Denmark and 
hove into Limfirth, and there was before him a 
great gathering of the folk of the land. 



E"^ ARL WOLF, the son of Sprakalegg, had 
\ been appointed to the warding of the land, 
^ whenas King Knut went to England. 
He had given into the hands of Earl Wolf his son, 
who is called Hordaknut, and this was the summer 
before, as is aforewrit. But the earl said straightway 
that the king had bidden him that errand, at their 
parting, that it was his will that the Danes should 
take Hordaknut, son of Knut the King, to king 
over the Dane-realm : " And for that reason he 
handed him over to us. I have," says he, " together 
with many men and chieftains of this land, often 
made a plaint of it to King Knut, that the folk of 
this land deem it mickle trouble to sit here king- 
less ; whereas kings of the Danes of aforetime 
deemed that they had their hands full in holding 
kingdom over the Dane-realm alone. For in times 

CLVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy, 317 

gone by many kings ruled this realm. But now 
hath that become a mickle more troublous matter 
than erst it was ; whereas hitherto we have been 
left to abide in peace for outlandish lords ; but now 
we hear it that the King of Norway is minded to 
come with war upon our hands, and moreover folk 
misdoubt them that even the King of Sweden is 
also minded for that journey, and to boot King 
Knut is now in England." 

Then the earl brought forth sealed letters of 
King Knut which proved the truth of all this 
which the earl had set forth. 

This business backed up many other lords of the 
land ; and, by the counsel of all of them, the folk of 
the land was of one mind to make Hordaknut king, 
which was done even at this very Thing. But in 
this counsel had Queen Emma been first upheaver ; 
for she had caused these letters to be written and 
sealed, having got guilefully at the seal of the 
king ; but from him was all this hidden. 

Now when Hordaknut and Earl Wolf were 
ware that King Olaf had come from the north 
from Norway with a mickle host, then fared they 
to Jutland, whereas there is the main might of the 
Dane-realm ; there they sheared up a war-arrow 
and summoned together a mickle host. But when 
they heard that the Swede-king had come there 
also with his war-host, they deemed they had not 
strength to join battle with them both. Yet they 
held the gathered army in Jutland, being minded 
to ward that land from the kings ; but the muster 
of the ships they drew all together in Limfirth,, 
and thus abode the coming of King Knut. 

3 1 8 The Saga Library. C LV III 

And when they heard that King Knut had 
come from the west to Limfirth, they sent mes- 
sengers to him and to Queen Emma, and bade 
her find out for sure whether the king was wroth 
with them or not, and give them a warning thereof. 
The queen talked this matter over with the king, 
and said that Hordaknut their son would atone in 
any wise that his father would, if he had done that 
which was not to the mind of the king. He answers 
and says that Hordaknut had not followed his own 
counsels. "It has befallen," says he, " as was to be 
looked for, whereas he is a child and witless, that, 
whenas he would be called king, trouble cometh on 
his hands ; for this land looked like to be all wended 
with war-shield, and be laid under outland lords, but 
if our strength came there between. Now, if he will 
make any peace with me, let him come to me and 
lay down this fool's name whereby he hath let him 
be called a king." 

Thereafter the queen sent these same words to 
Hordaknut, and that withal, that she bade him 
not lay this journey under his head ; and said, as 
was true, that he would get no help to withstand 
his father. And when these sent words came to 
Hordaknut, he took counsel with the earl and with 
other chieftains that were with him. And that was 
speedily found, that when the folk of the land 
heard that Knut the Old was come, then flocked 
to him all the throng of the land, and thought that 
all their trust was there. And Earl Wolf and 
other, his fellows, saw that they had two choices on 
hand, either to go and meet the king and lay every- 
thing in his power, or otherwise to get them gone 

CLIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 319 

out of the land. But all urged Hordaknut to go see 
his father ; and so he did. And when they met 
he fell at the feet of his father, and laid on his 
knees the seal with which went the title of kins". 
King Knut took Hordaknut by the hand and set 
him in a seat as high as that in which he had sat 
before. Earl Wolf sent Svein his son to meet 
King Knut ; and Svein was the sister-son of King 
Knut. He sought truce for his father and peace 
at the hand of the king, and offered himself an 
hostage on behalf of the earl. They, Svein and 
Hordaknut, were equals in age. King Knut bade 
these words be told to the earl, that he should 
gather together an host and muster of ships, and 
then come and meet the king, but afterwards they 
should talk their peace over ; even so did the earl. 


BUT when the Kings Olaf and Onund heard 
that King Knut was come from the west, 
and therewith that he had an host not to be 
dealt with, then they sail to the east coast of 
Skaney, and fall to harrying and burning the 
countrysides, and seek east along the land towards 
the realm of the Swede-king. But when the folk 
of the land heard that King Knut was come from 
the west, then was no fealty done to the kings. 
This Skald Sigvat telleth : 

The swift kings gat not 
Denmark lured 
Underneath them 
By the warfare. 

320 The Saga Library. CLIX 

The Danes' undoer 
Then let sharply 
Harry Skaney. 
— King far foremost. 

Then the kings made their way east about the 
land, and hove into the water which is called the 
Holy River, and tarried there awhile. Then news 
came to them that King Knut fared after them 
with his host. Then they took counsel together 
and settled on this, that Olaf with some of the war- 
host should go up aland, and all the way up into 
the mark-lands, to that water whence the Holy 
River falls. There at the outfall of the river they 
made a dam of timber and turf, and thuswise 
stemmed the water ; and then they cut great 
ditches and ran together many waters, and thereby 
wide flows were made. But into the river-bed 
they cut down huge timbers. They were about this 
work many days, and King Olaf had all the rule 
over this contrivance ; but King Onund bore rule 
over the ship's host that while. King Knut got 
news of the journeys of the kings and of all that 
scathe which they had done to his realm ; and 
then he makes for a meeting with them where 
they lay in the Holy River, and a great host he 
had, yea, more by the half than they both. Hereof 
Sigvat telleth : 

Jutland's ruler 

In land now lets him 

Be eat up nowise ; 

Man's kin well liked it. 

The warding-shield 

Of the Danes brooked fewest 

Of the land's liftings. 

— King far foremost. 

CLX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 32 1 


ON a day towards even it fell that the spies 
of King Onund saw the sailing of King 
Knut, and he had by then no long way to 
sail. Then King Onund let blow the war-blast. 
Then the men struck the tents and clad them for 
war, and rowed out of the haven and to the eastern 
shore, and there laid their ships together, and laid 
out hawsers and arrayed them for battle. King 
Onund slipped spies up aland, and they went to 
meet King Olaf and told him these tidings. Then 
King Olaf let break the dykes, and send the 
river into its old road ; but in the night he went 
down to his ships. King Knut came athwart the 
haven and saw where the war-hosts of the kings 
lay boun for battle. He deemed it would be over- 
late in the day to join battle by the time that all 
his host should be ready, whereas his fleet needed 
mickle sea-room to sail, and it was long between 
the first ship and the last, and that which sailed 
outermost and that which sailed nearest to the 
land ; and withal the wind was little. 

But when King Knut saw that the Swedes and 
the Northmen had cleared out of the haven, then 
made he into it, and all the ships that could find 
berth there, yet the main host lay out in the open 

In the morning, when it was high-day, much of 
their folk was up aland, some a-talking, and some 
at their sports. Then know they nought till waters 
come rushing upon them like falling forces ; there- 

IV. Y 

322 The Saga Library. CLX 

withal came huge timbers, which were driven against 
the ships, that took great hurt thereat ; but the waters 
flooded all the fields, and the folk that was aland 
did perish, yea, and many of those who were on 
board the ships. But all those who might bring 
it about cut their moorings and got loose, and the 
ships were driven all of a huddle. That mickle 
dragon, to wit, which the king himself owned, 
drave out before the stream ; not easily was it 
turned with oars, so it drifted out to the fleet of the 
kings, Olaf and Onund. And straightway when 
they knew the ship, they set upon it all round. But 
whereas the ship was high of bulwark even as 
might be a castle, and a multitude of men was on 
board, and the company chosen of the best, and 
weaponed, and of the valiantest, the ship was no- 
wise easily overcome ; and short was the hour ere 
Earl Wolf thrust in with his host, and then uphove 
the battle. Thereupon the host of King Knut 
drew thereto from every side. Then saw the 
Kings Olaf and Onund that for that time they had 
won all the victory that was fated them. So they 
let back-water and got loose out of King Knut's 
host, and the fleets parted. 

Now whereas this onset had not fallen suchwise 
as King Knut had ordered it, there was no rowing 
after them ; so they took to arraying the host and 
put things in order. 

Now after they had parted and each fleet went 
its own way, the kings kenned their host and found 
that they had gotten no man-spilling ; then withal 
they saw that if they abode until King Knut 
should have arrayed all that mickle host of his, and 

CLXI Tlie Story of Olaf the Holy. 323 

he should then fall upon them, the odds against 
them were so mickle, that but little hope there was 
of victor}' for them. So that rede was taken, to row 
all the host east along the land. But when they 
saw that King Knut held not after them, they 
raised up their masts and set their sails. So says 
Ottar the Black in the drapa which he wrought on 
King Knut the Rich. 

King, for thy foemen eager, 
Aback the Swedes thou beatedst. 
But mickle bait gat she-wolf 
Where called 'tis the Holy River. 
Thou heldest, O awful fight-stall, 
Thy land by the kin of warriors 
Against two kings, where starved not 
The raven ; thou swift-ready. 

So sang Thord, son of Siarek, in the death-song 
on King Olaf: 

Olaf, the lord of the people 
Of Agdir, had a steel brunt 
With the most noble Jute-lord, 
The cleaver of the gold rings. 
The king of the folk of Skanings 
Shot sharp enough against him ; 
Nought slow of proof was Svein's son. 
The wolf howled over corpses. 


THE Kings Olaf and Onund sailed east 
beyond the realm of the Swede-king ; and 
at the eve of one day they brought-to aland 
where it is hight Barwick, and there the kings lay 

324 The Saga Library, CLXI 

the night through. But it was found of the Swedes, 
that they were homesick, for all the main host sailed 
east along the land through the night, and letted 
not their faring till each one came home to his own 
abode. But when King Onund was aware of this 
he let blow to a House-Thing. Then King Onund 
took up the word : " So it is, King Olaf," says he» 
" even as thou knowest, that this summer we have 
fared all together, and harried far and wide about 
Denmark ; we have got together much wealth of 
chattels, but nought of land. This summer I have 
had four hundred and twenty ships abroad, but now 
there is left no more than a hundred and twenty. 
Now so it seemeth to me, that we shall win but 
little for our furtherance with no more host than now 
we have, although thou hast still the sixty ships 
which thou hadst through the summer. Now there- 
fore it seems to me the likeliest to go back into my 
own realm, for it is good ' to drive the waggon home 
whole ; ' for we have gained somewhat and lost 
nought. Now will I bid thee, Olaf, my brother-in- 
law, to come with me, and let us abide all together 
this winter ; and take thou so much of my goods as 
thou wilt, and whereby thou mayst well maintain 
thyself and thy host ; and if thou wilt rather the 
other choice, to have our land to fare over, and wilt 
fare the land-road to Norway, that shall be welcome 
to thee also." 

King Olaf thanked King Onund for his friendly 
bidding : " But if I shall rule, then somewhat else will 
be settled, and we shall hold together what host is 
left us. We have a chosen company and good ships 
a many, and we may well lie on board our ships all 

CLXII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 325 

through the winter after the wont of war-kings, but 
Knut will no long time be lying in the Holy River, 
for there is no haven for all that many ships he 
hath. I wot withal that in that place the folk will be 
no less homesick than here, and I ween that we have 
so dealt with matters in the summer that the thorp- 
dweller shall know what is to do, both in Skaney 
and about Halland. King Knut's host will speedily 
be scattered far and wide, and then there is no tell- 
ing to whom victory may be fated. So let us keep 
spies about first, as to what rede he takes." 

And King Olaf closed his speech in such wise 
that men gave good cheer thereto, and that rede 
was taken which he would. So spies were held on 
the army of King Knut, but both the kings, Olaf 
and Onund, lay in the same place. 


KING KNUT saw that the Kings of Nor- 
way and Sweden steered with all their 
host east along the land. So he let his 
men ride the upper way, day and night, even ac- 
cording as the kings sailed out in the open. King 
Knut had ever spies in their army, and when he 
heard that a great part of the host had sailed away 
from the kings, he steered with his host back again 
to Sealand, and lay in Eresound with all the host ; 
some of his folk lay over against Skaney, some 
over against Sealand. King Knut rode up to 
Roiswell the day before Michaelmas with a great 
following. Earl Wolf, his son-in-law, had arrayed 

326 The Saga Library. CLXIII 

a banquet for him. The earl gave him entertain- 
ment full noble, but the king was unjoyous and 
scowling. The earl wrought many ways to make 
him gleesome, but the king was short and few- 
spoken. The earl bade him play at the chess, and 
that he yeasaid, so they got them a chessboard and 
played. Earl Wolf was a man quick of word and 
unyielding in all things ; he was the mightiest man 
in Denmark next after King Knut. A sister of Earl 
Wolf was Gyda, whom Earl Godwin, son of Wolf- 
roth, had to wife, and their sons were King Harald 
and Earl Tosti, Earl Waltheow, Earl Morkar, and 
Earl Svein ; their daughter was Gyda, whom 
Edward the Good, King of England, had to wife. 


NOW when they had been playing a while 
at the chess Earl Wolf checked the king's 
knight. The king put his move back, 
and bade him play another. The earl got angry, 
cast down the table and went away. The king 
said : " Runnest thou away now. Wolf the Craven ?" 
The earl turned back in the door and said : " Fur- 
ther wouldst thou have run in the Holy River 
if thou mightest have brought it about ; nor 
didst thou call me Wolf the Craven when I thrust 
in to the helping of thee when the Swedes were 
beating you like hounds." 

Therewith the earl went out and went to sleep, 
and a little afterwards the king himself went to 

CLXIV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 327 

The next morning as the king clad himself he 
said to his foot-swain, " Go thou to Earl Wolf," 
says he, "and slay him." The swain went and 
was away a while and came back. The king said : 
" Didst thou slay the earl ? " "I did not slay him, 
for he had gone to Lucius' church." 

There was a man hight Ivar the White, a Nor- 
wegian of kin. The king said to Ivar: " Go, and 
slay the earl." Ivar went to the church and up 
into the choir, and thrust a sword through the 
earl, and forthwith Earl Wolf lost his life. Then 
went Ivar to the king and had his bloody sword. 
Said the king : " Slewest thou the earl ? " "I slew 
him," says he. The king said : " Then thou hast 
well done." 

But after the murder of the earl the monks let lock 
the church ; but the king sent men to the monks, 
bidding them to open the church and to sing the 
Hours there, and they did even as the king bade. 
And when the king came to the church he en- 
dowed it with great estates, so that they made a 
wide countryside, and thereafter this stead arose 

King Knut rode down to his ships, and lay 
there long through harvest with a very great host. 


WHEN Kings Olaf and Onund heard 
that King Knut had gone back to 
Eresound they had a House-Thing, 
and spoke many things concerning their business. 

328 The Saga Library. CLXV 

King Olaf's will was that they should lie there 
with the whole host, and abide what rede King 
Knut should take ; but the Swedes said it was 
nought redy to abide the frosts there. It was 
settled at the last that King Onund fared home 
with all his host, but King Olaf lay behind there. 


ON a night Egil Hallson and Tovi Val- 
gautson had to hold watch aboard the 
king's ship. As they sat on the watch, 
it befell that they heard a mickle greeting and 
wailing amongst the folk taken of war, which 
a-nights was kept bound up aland. Tovi says 
that he deemed it ill to hearken this wailing, 
and bade Egil come with him to loose the folk. 
So they took to this trick, that they sheared the 
bonds, and let the folk run away ; and work ill- 
favoured of the host was this. But the king was 
so wroth that they were in very peril of their life ; 
and thereafter, when Egil was sick, the king 
would not see him for long, until many men had 
prayed for him. Then Egil rued him much of 
his deed, and bade the king forgive him. And 
the king gave up his anger to Egil, and put his 
hand over the side of him where the pain lay 
beneath, and he sang thereover, and forthwith 
Egil bettered. Tovi got himself into peace, as the 
tale goes, whereas he brought Valgaut his father 
to a meeting with the king. He was a hound- 
heathen man, and was christened through the 
words of the king, and straightway died thereafter. 

CLXVII The Story of Olaf the Holy, z'^9 


KING KNUT had ever spies in the armv 
of King Olaf, who got into talk with 
many men, and would be holding forth 
offers of money and of matters of friendship on 
behalf of King Knut ; and many were led away 
by this means, and sold him their faith, to the end 
that they should vouchsafe him the land if he 
came to Norway. Many became bare hereof later 
on, though then atthe first it fared all hidden. Some 
men took gifts of money straightway, others were 
promised money thereafter ; but there were very 
many others who had aforetime taken great 
friendly gifts from him ; for it was indeed the truth 
to say of King Knut, that whoso came to him 
on whom he deemed he saw the stamp of a man, 
and who was fain to obey the king, even such 
man had of him his hands full of fee ; and there- 
for was he greatly beloved. His bounteousness 
was greatest to outland men, and that most to such 
as were come from furthest. 


KING OLAF had often parleys and meet- 
ings with his men, and asked for their 
counsel. But when he found that one 
uttered this, another that, then he misdoubted him 
that there would be some amongst them that spoke 
other than what they deemed to be of most rede, 

330 The Saga Library. CLXVIII 

and thus it would not be sure that all of them 
would be yielding him their rightful debt of good 
faith. Many egged him to this, that they should 
take a fair wind and sail to Eresound and so north 
to Norway, saying that the Danes would not dare 
to set upon them, although they were lying there 
before them with a great host. But the king was 
a man so wise that he saw that this was nowise to 
be tried. He knew, moreover, that with Olaf 
Tryggvison, when he had few folk and joined 
battle, and a great host was before him, it fell 
another way than that the Danes durst not fight. 
The king knew, moreover, that in King K nut's 
host there was a great many of Norwegians. 
Therefore the king misdoubted him that those 
who gave him such counsel must be more leal to 
King Knut than to him. So King Olaf made this 
decision, saying so, that men should array them, 
those who had will to follow him, and fare the 
upper road through the parts of Gautland, and 
thus all the way to Norway ; " but our ships," says 
he, " and all the heavy ware which we may not flit 
after us, will I send east into the realm of the 
Swede-king, and let it be guarded there on our 


IT" AREK of Thiotta thus answereth the 
— I speech of the king : " It is easily seen 
I that I may not fare afoot to Norway : I 
am an old man and heavy, and little wont to walk. 

CLXVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 331 

I am minded that perforce only I shall part from 
my ship ; I have laid out such care on that ship 
and the arraying thereof that I were loth to let my 
unfriends have prey thereof." 

Says the king, " Fare thou with us, Harek ; we 
shall bear thee after us, if thou mayst not walk." 
Then sang Harek: 

Ground of the Rhine's flame, surely 
Have I reded me to ride hence 
On my long mare of the din-road. 
Rather than walk hence homeward, 
Though Knut, the grove of arm-rings, 
Be lying with his war-ships 
Out in the Eresound yonder. 
The folk my stout heart knoweth. 

Then King Olaf let array his faring ; men had 
their daily garments and their weapons, and what 
they could get together of nags was packed with 
raiment and chattels. But he sent men and let 
flit his ships east to Kalmar, where they hauled 
them aland, and had all their shrouds and other 
goods put into safe keeping. 

Harek did as he had said ; he abode a fair wind, 
and then sailed west about Skaney until he came 
east of the Knolls, and that of the evening of a 
day, and with a wind behind blowing a breeze. 
Then he let strike sail and mast, and take down 
the vane, and wrap all the ship above the water 
in grey hangings, and let men row on a few 
benches fore and aft, but let most of the men sit 
low in the ship. 

Now King Knut's watch saw the ship, and 
they spoke among themselves as to what ship it 
could be, and guessed that there would be flitted 

332 The Saga Library. CLXVIII 

salt or herring, whereas they saw few men, and 
little rowing, and moreover the ship seemed 
grey and untarred, like a ship bleached by the 
sun, and withal they saw that the ship was much 
low in the water. 

But when Harek came forth into the sound past 
the host, he let raise the mast and hoist sail, and 
let set up gilded vanes, and the sail was white as 
snowdrift and done with red and blue bends. 

Then King Knut's men saw the sailing of him, 
and tell the king that it was most likely that King 
Olaf had sailed thereby. But King Knut sayeth 
so, that King Olaf was so wise a man that he 
would not have fared on board one ship through 
the host of King Knut, but saith that he deemed 
it more like that there would have been Harek of 
Thiotta or his make. 

But men have it for sooth of the matter, that 
King Knut will have known of the faring of 
Harek, and that he would not have so fared, if 
there had not gone friendly words between him 
and King Knut; and this, men deemed, came out 
clearly thereafter, when the friendship between 
King Knut and Harek became all-known. Harek 
sang this song when he sailed north past Weather- 
isle : 

Shoot we the oak withoutward 

Of the isle of heaven's shift-ring. 

I let not the Lund widows 

Nor the Dane-maids laugh thereover, 

O land of falcon's long-ship ! 

That I durst not this autumn 

Fare back with the Scantlings' falcon, 

On the level ways of Frodi. 

CLXX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 333 

So Harek went on his way, and letted not till 
he came north to Halogaland, to his manor in 


KING OLAF beginneth his journey, and 
fared first up through the Smallands, 
and came down into West Gautland ; he 
fared quietly and peacefully, and the people of the 
land gave them good furtherance. The king fared 
till he came down into the Wick, and then north 
along the Wick until he came to Sarpsburg. And 
there he took up his dwelling, and let array for 
wintering there. Then King Olaf gave home- 
leave to the most part of his company, but kept 
by him as many of the landed-men as seemed 
Sfood to him. There were with him all the sons 
of Arni Arnmodson, and they were held in most 
honour of the king. Then there came to the king 
Gellir Thorkelson, and had come from Iceland the 
summer before even as is aforewrit. 


SIGVAT THE SKALD had been long 
with King Olaf, even as is here writ, and 
the king had made him his marshal. Sig- 
vat was not a fast speaker in loose-hung words, 
but skaldship was so handy to him, that he rhymed 
out from the tongue just as if he spoke aught else. 

334 '^^^ Saga Library. CLXX 

He had been in chaffering voyages to Valland, and 
in one of them he had come to England and met 
Knut the Rich, and got of him leave to go to 
Norway, even as is aforewrit. But when he came 
into Norway, he went at once to meet King Olaf, 
and found him in Burg, and went before the king 
as he sat at table. Sigvat greeted him, but the 
kine looked over his shoulder at him and held his 
peace. Sigvat sang : 

Here we are come home hither, 
Thy marshals ! Now behold it, 
King of the folk ! Let men learn 
My sayings that I utter. 
Folk-king, say, where thou mindest 
A seat for me withinward. 
For all thine hall with wealth-stems 
Is pleasing to thy warriors ! 

Then came true the saw said of old, that many 
are a king's ears. King Olaf had heard all about 
the farings of Sigvat, that he had met King Knut. 
King Olaf said to Sigvat : " I know not whether 
thou be minded now to be my marshal, or hast 
become King K nut's man." Sigvat sang : 

Knut, of the dear rings bounteous, 

Asked me, would I to him be 

A servant as I had been 

Unto the heart-keen Olaf. 

I said that to me 'twas seemly 

To have one lord at one time. 

And I deemed that sooth I answered. 

Good pattern here to each man. 

Then said King Olaf that Sigvat should go to 
his seat, even the same he had been wont to have 

CLXXI The Story of Olaftlie Holy. 335 

aforetime. And once more Sigvat got himself 

into t 


into the same good Hking which he had had 


y-^ RLING SKIALGSON and all his sons 
I — \ had been through the summer in the host 

J ^ of King Knut, and of the company of 

Earl Hakon ; there, too, was Thorir Hound, and 
had mickle worship. But when King Knut heard 
that King Olaf had gone overland to Norway, then 
he broke up the muster, and gave all men leave to 
array for wintering. At this time was in Denmark 
a great host of outland men, both Englishmen 
and Norwegians, and from yet more lands, who 
had come to join the hosting in the summer. 
Erling Skialgson went in the autumn with his folk 
to Norway, and took great gifts of King Knut at 
their parting. Thorir Hound stayed behind with 
King Knut. 

In company with Erling there went north into 
Norway King K nut's messengers, and had with 
them exceeding store of money ; and that winter 
they went far and wide about the land, and paid 
out the moneys that King Knut had promised 
men in the autumn for their aid to him ; and gave 
also to many others whose friendship to King 
Knut they got bought with money. But they 
fared over the land in the trust of Erling Skialgson. 
Now things went so that a multitude of men 
turned them for friendship to King Knut, and 

33^ The Saga Library. CLXXI 

behote him their service, and this, moreover, to 
withstand King Olaf ; that did some openly, but 
the others were many more who hid it from the 
people. King Olaf heard these tidings, for many 
knew how to tell him thereof, and it was much 
brought into talk there at the court. Skald Sigvat 
sang this : 

The king's foes there are ganging 
With purses loose ; that people 
Bids heavy metal often 
For the head of the king we sell not. 
For down-adown each wots him 
In the swart hell, who would sell him, 
His own good lord, for gold-pay : 
For such men such is worthy. 

And again Sigvat sang this : 

Sore price was got in heaven. 
When they who smote down lealness 
With treason needs must seek to 
The deep home of high fire. 

Often was the word heard in mouth there, how 
ill it behoved Earl Hakon to bring an host against 
King Olaf, seeing that he had given him his life 
when the earl had gotten into his power. But 
Sigvat was the greatest friend of the earl ; and then 
again, when he heard the earl wyted, he sang : 

O'er-yielding waxed the house-carles 
Of the Hord-folk's king to the earl then, 
If so be that they took money 
Against the life of Olaf. 
Nought to his court 'tis noble 
To have such wyte upon them. 
To all us seemlier is it 
If we be clean of treason. 

CLXXII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 337 


KING OLAF had a great Yule-feast, at 
which there was gathered to him a many 
great men. On the seventh day of Yule 
it fell that the king went a-walking, and a few 
men with him. Sigvat followed the king day and 
night, and at this time he was with him. So they 
went to a certain house, wherein were guarded the 
precious things of the king. He had then had 
great store arrayed, as his wont was, and fetched 
together his precious things for this sake, to give 
gifts of friendship on the eighth eve of Yule. 
There stood in the house swords gold-wrought 
nowise all few. Then sang Sigvat : 

Stand swords there the most trusty, 
All gold bedight ; here praise we 
The wound-sound's oar. Host-ruler, 
Now do I need thy good-will. 
All-wielder, I would take it, 
If one to the skald thou gavest. 
O sender-forth of wicks' flame. 
With thee I whiles was wending. 

The king took some one of the swords and gave 
it to him ; the grip thereof was wound with gold, 
and the hilts inlaid with gold, and a right good 
keepsake it was. But an un-envied gift it was not, 
and that was heard thereafter. 

Now forthwith after Yule King Olaf began his 
journey to the Uplands ; for he had a mickle throng, 
but no revenues had come to him from the North- 
country this autumn ; whereas the host had been 

IV. z 

33^ The Saga Library. CLXXIII 

out through the summer, the king had expended 
thereon all goods that he might get. Then, too, 
there were no ships whereon to bring his company 
into the North-country. Moreover, such news only 
he had from the north as seemed to him to look 
nought peaceable, unless he went with mickle folk. 
For the sake of these things, the king made up his 
mind to fare across the Uplands. But now it was 
not so long since he had fared there a-feasting, 
even as the law stood or the wont of kings had 
been. But when the king got further on into 
the land, landed-men and mighty bonders bade 
him to their houses, and thus lightened him his 


THERE was a man named Biorn, of Gaut- 
land kindred, a friend and acquaintance 
of Queen Astrid, and in somewhat akin 
to her ; and she had given him stewardship and 
bailiwick in the Upper Heathmark, and he also 
had in charge the Eastern Dales. Nought was 
Biorn dear to the king, nor was he in good- 
likinof of the bonders. That also had come to 
pass, in the countryside over which Biorn had rule, 
that there had been big loss of the neat and swine. 
Biorn had let call a Thing thereto, whereat was 
sought after vanishings. He claimed that the men 
likeliest to do such things, and such evil tricks were 
those who abode in woodland dwellings far away 
from other men, and he laid the guilt for this at 

CLXXIV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 339 

the doors of those who dwelt in the Eastern Dales. 
That dwelling was very straggling, the abodes of 
men beine alonor waters or in clearincrs in the 
woods, and in few places any thronged dwellings 


RED was the name of a man who dwelt in 
the Eastern Dales ; his wife was called 
Ragnhild, and his sons Day and Sigurd, 
both the likeliest of men. They were standing at 
that Thing and upheld the answers on behalf of the 
Dale-dwellers, and thrust the charges from them. 
Biorn deemed that they had gone on bigly, and 
were mickle of pride, both as to weapons and 
clothes. Biorn turned his speech against those 
brethren, and said that they were nowise unlike to 
have done such a thing. But they gainsaid this on 
their behalf, and therewith the Thing broke up. 

A little after King Olaf came to Steward Biorn 
with his band, and took guesting there. Then was 
the matter bemoaned to the king, which was had 
before at the Thing, and Biorn said that he deemed 
the sons of Red were likeliest to be at the bottom 
of this unhap. Then the sons of Red were sent 
for ; and when they met the king, he took them for 
men unthieflike, and declared them free of these 
charges. Then they bade the king to their father 
to a feast of three nights, with all his folk. Biorn 
letted the journey ; but the king went none the 

340 The Saga Library. CLXXIV 

At Red's was the feast of the stateliest. Then 
the king asked of what men was Red, and his wife 
withal. Red said he was a Swedish man, wealthy 
and of high birth, " but I ran away thence," he says, 
"with this woman, whom I have had for wife 
sithence, and who is a sister of King Ring, the son 
of Day." Then the king awoke to the kinship of 
them both. Withal he found this, that father and 
sons were men exceeding wise, and he asked them 
concerning their prowess and crafts; and Sigurd 
says that he can to arede dreams, and to tell the 
hours of day and night though no light of heaven 
be seen. The king tried this art in him, and it all 
tallied with what Sigurd had said. Day found 
that of his craft that he could to tell what was gain 
and lack in every man on whom he set his eyes, 
if he would but put his mind and thought to it. 
The king bade him tell what mind-lack he saw 
in him, and Day hit upon what the king deemed 
right. Then the king asked concerning Biorn 
the Steward, what heart-lack he had. Day said 
that Biorn was a thief ; therewithal he told, where 
Biorn had hidden at his stead, bones and horns 
and hides of the neat which he had stolen that 
same harvest. "He is," said he, " at the bottom 
of all those thefts which have befallen this autumn, 
wherewith he hath wyted other men." And Day 
told the king all marks thereto, whereas the king 
should let seek. And when the king went away 
from Red, he was seen off with great friend-gifts, 
and in his company were the sons of Red. Fared 
the king first to Biorn's, and made proof of him in 
all things, even as Day had said. Then the king 

CLXXV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 341 

let Blorn fare away from the land, and it was of 
the queen's avail that he held life and limb. 


THORIR, the son of Olvir of Eggja, the 
stepson of Kalf, the son of Arni, and 
sister's son to Thorir Hound, was the 
goodliest of all men, a mickle man and a strong, 
and by this time eighteen winters old. He had 
gotten good wedding in Heathmark, and good 
wealth therewith. He was a man full well-be- 
loved, and was deemed to be likely of a lord. He 
bade the king together with his company to a feast 
at his home ; and this bidding the king took, and 
went to Thorir's house, and there got right good 
welcome. There was a feast most brave, and 
entertainment of the noblest, and goods the best 
that might be. The king and his men talked 
among themselves how well went together Thorir's 
housing, plenishing, board-array, drink, and the 
man who gave the entertainment, so that they 
wotted not which was the foremost. Day had but 
little to say thereto. King Olaf was wont often to 
have converse with Day, and asked him of sundry 
matters, and of all that Day said the king proved 
the sooth, whether it were bygone or yet to come ; 
and thus the king would put great trust in his 
redes. Then the king called Day to a privy talk, 
and spoke with him concerning very many matters. 
Thither came down the speech of the king, that he 
set forth to Day how stately a man was Thorir, 

342 The Saga Library. CLXXV 

who had made them so noble a feast. Day had 
httle to say to this, but said it was all true what the 
king had spoken. Then the king asked Day, what 
blemish of mind he saw in Thorlr. Day said he 
deemed that Thorir would be well fared of mind, 
if he were so endowed as to all folk was upcome. 
The king bade him tell him all he asked, saying, he 
was in duty bound thereto. Day answers : " Then 
wilt thou, king, grant me that I rule the feud, if I 
find out the fault." The king answers that he will 
not hand his doom over to other men, but bade 
Day tell him what he asked. 

Day answered : " Dear is the lord's word ! 
This is the mind-lack I must find in Thorir's 
heart, as to many befalleth, — that he is a man over 

The kinof answers : " Is he a thief or a robber ? " 
Day answers : " Not that," says he. "What is it, 
then ? " says the king. 

Day answers : "He won that for money, that 
he became his lord's traitor ; he has taken money 
of Knut the Rich for thine head." 

The king answered : " How makest thou this 
true?" Day spoke : "He has on his right arm, 
above the elbow, a thick gold ring, which King 
Knut hath given to him, and he letteth no man 
see It. 

Thereafter Day and the king sundered their 
talk, and the king was exceeding wroth. 

So when the king sat at table, and men had 
drank for a while, and were right merry, and 
Thorir went about the entertaining, then the 
king let call Thorir to him. He came up to the 

CLXXV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 343 

outside edge of the table and laid his hands upon 
the table. The king asked : " How old a man art 
thou, Thorir ? " "I am eighteen winters old," says 
he. The king says : " A mickle man art thou for 
thine age, Thorir, and well knit." And therewith 
the king took his right arm and stroked it up above 
the elbow. Thorir said : " Touch it gently there ; 
I have a boil on the arm." The king held his 
hand still, and felt something hard underneath. 
The king spake : "Hast thou not heard that I am 
a leech ? Let me see the boil." 

Thorir saw that then there was no good in hiding 
it any longer, and so he took the ring and gave it 
forth. The king asked if that was King K nut's gift. 
Thorir said that was a thing could not be hidden. 
The king let lay hands on Thorir, and set him in 

Then Kalf came forward and prayed for peace 
for Thorir, and bade money for him ; and many 
men furthered the matter and bade their moneys. 
But the king was so wroth, that no words could be 
brought to bear on him, and he said that Thorir 
should have the like doom which he had minded 
for the king, and thereafter the king let slay Thorir. 
But this work was for the greatest ill-will both 
there about the Uplands, and no less north about 
Thrandheim, where the most of Thorir's kindred 
abode. Kalf withal accounted the slaying of this 
man an exceeding great matter, for in his youth 
Thorir had been his fosterson. 

344 T^^^^ Saga Library. CLXXVI 


G^ RIOTGARD, son of Olvir and brother 
of Thorir, was the elder of the two 
' brothers ; he was the goodhest of men, 
and had a following of men about him. Eke was 
he at this time abiding about Heathmark. And 
when he heard of the slaying of Thorir, he raised 
the feud on the king's men and goods wheresoever 
they were in his way, but otherwhiles he kept 
himself in woods or in other lairs. But when the 
king heard of this unpeace, he let hold spies on the 
farings of Griotgard. So the king gets to know ot 
his farings ; and Griotgard had night-abode at a 
place not far from where the king was. King 
Olaf went thither forthwith that same night, and 
came there about the dawn of day, and they threw 
a ring of men around the chamber wherewithin 
was Griotgard. Griotgard and his awoke at the 
din of men and clatter of weapons, and sprang 
straightway to their weapons ; and Griotgard sprang 
into the fore-hall and asked who was at the head 
of that company. He was told that there was come 
Olaf the king, and he asked if the king could hear 
his words. The king stood before the door and 
said that Griotgard could say whatever he pleased ; 
" for I can hear thy words," said the king. Griotgard 
said : " Nought will I pray thee peace." Then 
Griotgard rushed out, and had a shield over his 
head and a drawn sword in his hand ; little light 
there was, and he saw unclearly. He thrust his 
sword at the king, but there before it was Arnbiorn 

CLXXVII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 345 

Arnison, and the thrust took him under the byrny, 
and ran up into his belly, and thereof gat Arnbiom 
his bane. But Griotgard was slain forthwith, and 
the most part of his band. After these haps the 
king turned his ways back south to the Wick. 


NOW when King Olaf came to Tunsberg, 
he sent out men into all bailiwicks and 
craved for him host and muster of 
ships. At that time he had but a few ships, and 
no other ships he had then but craft of the 
bonders ; but the host drew well in from the 
countrysides about, but few came from afar, and it 
was soon found that the folk of the land must 
have turned away from their faith to the king. 
King Olaf arrayed his host east in Gautland, and 
sent them after the ships and goods which they 
had left behind in the autumn. But the journey 
of these men sped slowly, whereas it was no better 
then than in harvest to fare through Denmark ; 
for King Knut had an host out in the spring 
throughout all the Dane-realm, and had no less 
than twelve hundred ships. 

346 The Saga Library. CLXXVIII 


THOSE tidings were heard in Norway that 
Knut the Rich was drawing together in 
Denmark an host not to be dealt with, and 
that he was minded to make for Norway with all 
that host and to lay the land under him. But 
when suchlike was heard, then were the men yet 
worse for King Olaf to fall back upon, and there- 
after he gat him but little help of the bonders. On 
this his men would often be talking between them- 
selves. Then sang Sigvat this : 

England's all-wielder biddeth 
His hosts out : and we gat us 
Men lesser and ships littler ; 
But the king nought see I fearsome. 
Right ugly are the redes now, 
If the folk of the land be letting 
This king go lack for war-host. 
Fee letteth folk lack faith now. 

The king had meetings of his body-guard, and 
sometimes an busting with his whole host, and 
asked men as to what seemed to them best to 
take to : " We need not hide from us," said he, 
" that King Knut will come to see us this summer, 
and a great host he has, even as ye will have heard, 
but we have but a little company to set against his, 
as matters stand, and the folk of the land are now 
no longer looking true to us." But this speech of 
the king men answered diversely, such as he had 
put forth his word to. But here is set forth what 
Sigvat answered : 

CLXXIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 347 

Flee can we ; but it layeth 

Wyte on our hands. Yet the foemen 

Of All-wielder pay forth money. 

I face the word of dastard. 

Each thane himself shall heed now 

Himself as far as may be, 

Since all avail now faileth ; 

Shoots up the king's friends' treason. 


THAT same spring befell the tidings in 
Halogaland that Harek of Thiotta called 
to mind how Asmund Grankelson had 
robbed and beaten his house-carles. That ship 
which Harek owned, of twenty benches, floated 
off his homestead tilted and decked. He gave 
out word that he was minded to fare south to 
Thrandheim. So on an evening Harek went 
aboard ship with the company of his house- carles, 
and had nigh on eighty men. They rowed the 
night through, and when it was morning they 
came to the homestead of Grankel, and cast a ring 
of men around the houses ; then they fell on, and 
sithence laid fire in the houses. And therein 
burned Grankel and his home-men with him. but 
some were slain without ; thirty men in all lost 
their lives there. Harek fared home after this 
work, and sat on his manor. Asmund was with 
King Olaf; but as to the men who were in Halo- 
galand, no one of them either bade Harek of 
atonement, neither did he offer any. 

34B The Saga Library. CLXXX 


KNUT the Rich drew his host together, 
and made his way to Limfirth. But 
when he was arrayed, he sailed thence 
away with all his folk to Norway. He fared swiftly, 
nor lay by the land on the east side of the firth. 
So he sailed across the Fold and hove into Agdir, 
and there called Things together, and the bonders 
came down and had meetings with King Knut. 
And there Knut was taken for king over the 
whole land. So then and there he appointed men 
to bailiwicks, and took hostages of the bonders, 
and no man spake against him. 

King Olaf was in Tunsberg when the host of 
King Knut fared across the Fold further out. King 
Knut went north along the land, and men flocked 
to him out of the countrysides, and they all swore 
him fealty. King Knut lay in Eikund-sound a 
while, and there came to him Erling Skialgson 
with a great host, and then he and King Knut 
bound their friendship together anew ; and it was 
among the promises to Erling on behalf of King 
Knut that Erling should have all the land between 
Stad and Rygsbit to rule over. Thereupon King 
Knut went his ways northward, and that is shortest 
to tell of his faring, that he letted not till he came 
north to Thrandheim, and hove into Nidoyce. 
Then he summoned an Eight-folks-Thing, and at 
that Thing was King Knut taken to king over all 
Norway. Thorir Hound had fared from Denmark 
with King Knut, and he was there; there, too, 

CLXXXI The Story of Olaf tlie Holy. 349 

was come Harek of Thiotta, and he and Thorir 
became King Knut's landed-men, bound by sworn 
oaths. King Knut gave them great grants, and 
handed to them the Finn-fare, and gave them 
great gifts to boot. All landed-men, who were 
fain to turn them towards him, he endowed both 
with grants and chattels, and let them all have 
more dominion than they had had before. 


NOW had King Knut laid under him all 
the land of Norway. Then had he 
a crowded Thing both of his own host 
and of the folk of the land ; and King Knut made 
it known that his will was to give Earl Hakon, 
his kinsman, all the land to rule over which he had 
won in that journey. That went therewith, that 
King Knut led to the high-seat beside him Horda- 
knut his son, and gave him the name of king, and 
with it all the realm of Denmark. King Knut 
took hostages of all landed-men and mighty 
bonders ; he took their sons or brothers, or other 
near kinsmen, or such other men as were dearest 
to them, and he deemed most meet. The king 
bound to him the faith of men in this wise, as is 
now said. Forthwith, when Earl Hakon had taken 
to him the rule of Norway, Einar Thambarskelfir, 
his kinsman-in-law, joined fellowship with him, and 
took over all those grants which aforetime he had 
had, when the earls ruled the land. King Knut 
gave to Einar great gifts, and knit him to himself 
in dear liking, and behote him that he should be 

350 The Saga Library. CLXXXII 

the greatest and noblest of all men untitled in 
Norway, while his sway stood in the land ; and this 
he let follow, that he deemed Einar best fitted to 
bear a name of dignity in Norway, or his son else, 
Endridi, for the sake of his kin, if there should be 
no earl to choose. These behests Einar accounted 
mickle, and promised his faith in return. Then 
hove up anew the lordship of Einar. 


THERE was a man called Thorarin Praise- 
tongue; he was an Icelander of kin, a 
great skald, and had spent long time in 
fellowship with kings or other lords. He was with 
King Knut the Rich, and had wrought on him a 
"flock " ; but when the king knew that Thorarin had 
done a flock on him, he grew wroth thereat, and 
bade him bring him a drapa the next day, when 
he should be sitting at table. But if he did not do 
this, then, says the king, should Thorarin hang 
aloft for his boldness, whereas he had done but a 
" drapling" on King Knut. So Thorarin wrought 
a refrain, and put it into the song, and eked it out 
with a few staves. This is the refrain : 

Knut wards the land, as wardeth 
The ward of Greece heaven's kingdom. 

King Knut rewarded the song with fifty marks of 
silver. That drapa is called the Head-Ransom. 
Thorarin wrought another drapa on King Knut, 
which is called Togdrapa, wherein the tale is told 

CLXXXII The Story of Ola f the Holy. 351 

of these journeys of King Knut, when he fared 
from Denmark north to Norway, and this is one 
group of staves betwixt two refrains : 

Knut 's neath the sun's .... 
The high-mannered with host 
Mickle fast fared 
My friend, up thither. 
Fetched out of Limfirth, 
The king, right nimble, 
An all unlittle 
Fleet of the otter-home. 

The much-strong of fight, 
The Agdir folk, feared 
The faring of fierce craver 
Of heaps of the fight swan. 
The king's ship all over 
With gold was bedighted. 
Of such thing was to me 
Sight richer than saw. 

And forth off Listi 

Hard over sea glided 

The coal-black timbers 

Of the beast of thole-pin. 

All Eikund-sound 

Down in the south was 

All full-furnished 

With the surf-boar's sea-skates. 

And the house-fast 
Peace-men swift glided 
Past the ancient 
Howe of Hjornagli. 
Shaft-bidder's faring 
Was nowise puny, 
Where the .stem-cliff's stud 
Past Stad was driven. 

The wind-strong surf-deer 
Bore their longsome 

352 The Saga Library. CLXXXIII 

Boards of hull-belly 
On beyond Stim. 
The cold-home's falcons 
From the south so glided, 
That the host-hier mighty 
North into Nid came. 

Gave then the nimble 

Lord of the Jute-way 

Unto his nieve 

Norway all over. 

To his son he gave, 

So say I, Denmark, 

Of the swan-dales' dim-hall. 

Here it is said, that to him, who sang this, that 
sight was richer than saw, concerning the journey 
of King Knut ; for Thorarin praiseth this, that he 
was himself in the faring with King Knut when 
he came into Norway. 


THE men whom King Olaf had sent east 
into Gautland for his ships took away 
those of them which they deemed the 
best, but the rest they burnt ; but took with them 
the rigging and the other goods withal which 
the king owned and his men. They sailed from 
the east when they heard that King Knut had 
gone north into Norway, and from the east they 
sailed through E re-sound, and so north to the 
Wick to meet King Olaf, and brought him his 
ships, when he was then in Tunsberg. But when 
King Olaf heard that King Knut held with 

CLXXXIV The Story of Ola/ the Holy. 353 

his host north along the land, King Olaf hove 
with his host into Oslofirth and up into the water 
called Drafn, and held him about there until King 
Knut was gone south again. 

But in the journey which King Knut made 
north along the land he had a Thing in every folk- 
land, and at every Thing the land was sworn him 
by oaths, and hostages were given him. He went 
east across the Fold unto Burg, and there he had 
a Thing, and the land was sworn to him there as 
elsewhere. After that King Knut went south to 
Denmark, and had made Norway his own without 
battle. He ruled then over three realms. So 
says Hallward Hareksblesi when he sang about 
King Knut : 

Reddener of bark of boon-ship ! 
Yngvi fight-bold sole ruleth 
O'er England and o'er Denmark ; 
The straighter peace then waxeth. 
The Frey of the din of troll-wife 
Of points thrust too beneath him 
Norway ; the lavish of the war-din 
Allays the falcon's hunger. 


KING OLAF steered hisships out forTuns- 
berg forthwith when he heard that King 
Knut was gone south to Denmark. Then 
he arrayed his faring with what company would fol- 
low him, and he had then thirteen ships. Then he 
held on down the Wick, and got but litde of wealth 
and even so of men, out-taken that there followed 

IV. A A 

354 1^^ Saga Library. CLXXXV 

him they who dwelt in islands or on outermost 
nesses. The king then never went up into the 
land, but got of wealth or men only what was in 
his way ; and he found this, that the land had been 
beguiled from under him. He went on as wind 
would blow ; and this was in early winter. Their 
journey sped rather slow, and they lay in Seal-isles 
for a long while, and there had tidings of chapmen 
from the north of the land ; and the king was told 
then that Erling Skialgson had a great host gathered 
together on Jadar. His longship lay off the land 
and a crowd of other ships owned by bonders, and 
they were cutters and net-boats and big rowing- 
boats. Then the king held on with his company 
from the east, and lay for a while in Eikund-sound ; 
and then each had news of the other. And then 
Erling thronged up to his utmost. 


ON Thomas-mass before Yule in the very 
first dawn, the king put out of the haven, 
there being a right good fair wind some- 
what sharp. So then they sailed north coasting 
Jadar ; the weather was wet, and some fog driving 
about. News went about up aland in Jadar so soon 
as the king came sailing in the offing. And when 
Erling was aware that the king came sailing from 
the east, then let he blow all his host for the ships ; 
and all the people drifted on board the ships, and 
the battle was arrayed. But the ships of the king 
were borne on swiftly north past Jadar; and then 

CLXXXVI The Story ofOlafthe Holy. 355 

he turned inward, being minded so to shape his 
journey as to fare into the firths, and there to get 
for him both men and money. ErHng Skialgson 
sailed after him and had an host of men and a mul- 
titude of ships. Their ships glided on swiftly, since 
they had on board nought but men and weapons, 
and Erling's longship went faster by much than the 
other ships. Then he let reef the sail and waited 
for his host. Then King Olaf saw that Erling and 
his men pursued him eagerly, but the ships of the 
king were very water-logged and soaked, whereas 
they had been afloat on the sea all through the 
summer and the autumn and the winter to boot. 
He saw that the odds would be great if they met 
all the host of Erling at once. Then he let call 
from ship to ship that men should lower the sails 
and somewhat slowly, and take one reef out of 
them, and so it was done. Erling and his men 
found this. Then called out Erling, and urged his 
host, and bade them to sail faster : "Ye see," 
says he, " that now their sails lower and they draw 
away from us." So then he let fly the sail from 
the reefs on his longship, and speedily it drew 
away from the other ships. 


KING OLAF steered inside of Bokn, and 
then hidden from each was the sight of 
the other. Sithence the king bade strike 
sail and row forth into a strait sound which was 
there ; and there they laid the ships together, and 

35^ The Saga Library. CLXXXVI 

on their outer side there jutted out a rocky ness. 
Men were then all clad for war. 

Then Erling sailed into the sound, and they 
were unware of an armed host lying before them, 
till they saw the king's men row all their ships at 
once against them. Erling and his struck sail 
and gripped their weapons, but the king's host 
beset the ship from every side. There befell a 
battle, and was of the sharpest. Then speedily 
turned the fall of men to the side of Erling. Erling 
stood in the poop of his ship ; he had a helm on his 
head and a shield before him, and was sword in 

Sigvat the Skald had been left behind in the 
Wick, and there he learnt these tidings. Now Sig- 
vat was the greatest friend of Erling, and had taken 
gifts of him and been with him, and he wrought a 
" flock " on the fall of Erling, and therein is this 
stave : 

Erling, e'en he who reddened 

The bleak foot of the eagle — 

Doubtless is that — did run out 

The oak against the king there. 

His longship lay then sithence 

All close aboard the king's ship, 

Amidst the mickle war-host ; 

Fought there with sword brisk warriors. 

Then the company of Erling began to fall, and 
as soon as they were over-borne and there was 
boarding of the longship, then every man fell in 
his place. The king himself went forth hard. So 
says Sigvat : 

The strong king hewed the warriors, 
Wroth strode he o'er the longships ; 

CLXXXVI TheStoryofOlaf the Holy. 357 

On the decks the slain lay thronged ; 
Off Tongues was heavy onset. 
The broad board-acre reddened 
The king there north of Jadar ; 
Warm blood the wide sea into 
Came. There the famed king battled. 

So throughly fell the folk of Erling that no man 
stood up on the longship save he alone. It was 
both that men craved little peace, nor got aught 
when they craved ; and there was no turning to 
flight, for ships lay on every side around the long- 
ship. And it is told for truth that no man sought 
to flee away. Even so says Sigvat : 

All the ship's crew of Erling 
By Bokn's coast was fallen, 
For there the youthful Shielding, 
North of Tongues cleared the longship. 
The swift and the guile-loathing 
Skialgson stood up alone there, 
And far away from all friends. 
In the poop of the voided war-ship. 

Then was onset made at Erling both from the 
fore-room and from the other ships. In the poop 
there was a great room, and it towered much high 
above the other ships, and nought might be got on 
him save shot and somewhat of spear-thrust, and 
all that he hewed away from him. Erling fought 
so nobly, that no man knew example of any one 
man standing so long before the onset of so many; 
but never sought he to get away or to crave peace. 
So says Sigvat : 

The stout-heart Skialg's avenger 
No peace for him was naming, 

358 The Saga Library. CLXXXVI 

Though from the king's men lacked not 
Showers of the axes' skerries. 
Spear-warder, no more bold-heart 
Comes ever on the guardian 
Cask of the winds, wide-bottomed, 
Washed by the sea-deep ever. 

King Olaf then made aft for the fore- room and 
saw what Erling was at. Then the king cast the 
word at him, and said : " Forward thou facest us 
to-day, Erling." He answered : " Faceward shall 
eagles claw each other." Of these words Sigvat 
telleth : 

Glad Erling, who a long while 
Well the land heeded, neither 
Was lame in land-ward, bade he 
Ernes claw each other faceward, 
Whenas he fell to Olaf 
With true words, in brunt yonder 
At Outstone ; there already 
With fight-rede was he furnished. 

Then said the king : " Wilt thou gang under 
my hand, Erling ? " " That I will," says he. 
Therewith he took the helm off his head, and laid 
down his sword and shield, and went forth into the 
fore-room. The king thrust at him with the horn 
of his axe and into his cheek, and said : " We shall 
mark the lord's traitor." Then leapt thereto Aslak 
Pate o' Fitiar and hewed with an axe into the head 
of Erling, so that it stood deep in the brain, and 
that was forthwith a bane-sore. 

Then said King Olaf : " Of all men wretchedest 
of thy hewing ! So hast thou hewn Norway from 
out my hand." 

Aslak answered : " That is ill then, king, if 

CLXXXVI The Story of Olaf the Holy . 359 

there be hurt to thee in the stroke. Methought I 
hewed Norway into thy hand ; but if I have done 
harm to thee, O king, and I have done a thankless 
work for thee, then am I foredone, whereas I 
shall have so many men's unthank and enmity for 
this work, that I should the rather stand in need 
of thine avail and friendship." The king said it 
should be so. 

Then the king bade every man go on board his 
ship and array for the journey at his speediest. 
" We shall not," he said, " plunder the slain here ; 
let either have what they have gotten." So men 
went back on board the ships, and arrayed them 
at their speediest. But when they were boun, then 
the ships with the bonder-host hove from the south 
into the sound. And then it befell, as oft is tried, 
that, though a great host be gathered, when men 
get heavy blows and lose their captains, and be 
then chieftainless, they are nought for bold deeds. 
The sons of Erling were not there, and the onset of 
the bonders came to nought, and the king sailed 
north on his way. But the bonders took the body 
of Erling, and laid it out and brought it home to 
Soli, and all the slain withal that had fallen there. 
Erling was sore bewailed, and that has been the 
saying of men, that Erling Skialgson was the 
mightiest and the noblest man in Norway among 
those who bore no higher title of dignity. Sigvat 
the Skald sang this moreover : 

Erling fell : no better 
Man's son his death abideth ; 
But that all-rich one soothly 
With might and main he wrought it. 

360 The Saga L ibrary. CLXXXVII 

I wot ail-swiftly no man 
Other than he who could it 
To hold his own more fully, 
Life-long to his life-losing. 

Then sayeth he that Aslak had brought about a 
kin-slaying and a deed much unmeet : 

Slain is the ward of the Hords' land ; 
Aslak has eked kin-guilt. 
But few there be meseemeth 
Would waken stour in such wise. 
Now nought may he gainsay it, 
Kin-slaying. Sure born kinsmen 
From anger should refrain them. 
And heed the saws of old time. 


THE sons of Erling were, some north in 
Thrandheim with Earl Hakon, some 
north in Hordland, some up in the firths, 
and were gathering folk there. But when the fall 
of Erling was heard, there followed the tale there- 
of a bidding-out from the east about Agdir and 
Rogaland and Hordland. An host was bidden 
out, and the greatest multitude that was, and 
all that host went with the sons of Erling north 
after King Olaf. Now whenas King Olaf fared 
from the battle with Erling, he sailed north through 
the sounds, and by then was the day far spent. So 
say men that he wrought this lay then : 

But little the white goodman 
Will joy to-night at Jadar. 
The clash of Gunn we won us ; 
Flesh gotten eats the raven. 

CLXXXVII Story of Olaf the Holy. 361 

All evilly hath the robbing 

Of me for him betided. 

Wroth strode I o'er the ships there. 

'Tis the Land that makes men's murder. 

Thereafter the kino- fared north alongf the land 
with his host, and heard all the truth told about 
the gathering of the bonders. 

At that time there were with King Olaf many 
landed-men ; there were all the sons of Arni. 
This is set forth by Biarni Goldbrow's-skald 
in the song which he wrought on Kalf, son of 

'Gainst very Bokn wert thou, 
Kalf, when the Heir of Harald 
Sword-bold bade men to battle ; 
Thy valour known to men is. 
Ye gat for the steed of troll-wife, 
Good store for Yule. Then wert thou 
Kenned first man at the meeting 
Of the flint-stones and the war-spears. 

Ill share from the strife the folk gat ; 

For a prey was Erling gotten. 

In blood the black boards weltered 

All to the north of Outstone. 

The king, now clear 'tis proven, 

Bewrayed of his land was ; 

'Neath Agdir-folk were the lands laid. 

Heard I that their host was greater. 

King Olaf fared on till he came north beyond 
Stad and hove into Her-isles, where he learnt the 
tidings that Earl Hakon had a great host out 
in Thrandheim. Then the king took counsel with 
his company, and Kalf Arnison egged on much 
that they should make for Thrandheim and there 
fight with Earl Hakon, the mickle odds notwith- 

362 The Saga Library. CLXXXVIII 

standing. This rede many backed up, while other- 
some letted it, so the matter was left to be settled 
by the king. 


SITHENCE King Olaf held into Stonebight 
and lay there over-night. But Aslak Pate 
o' Fitiar took his ship into Borgund, and 
tarried there through the night. Vigleik, the son 
of Arni, was there before him, and in the morning, 
when Aslak was about going aboard his ship, 
Vigleik set upon him, being minded to avenge 
Erling ; and there Aslak fell. Then came men to 
the king, his courtmen to wit, from the north, 
from Frek-isle Sound, of them who had sat at home 
through the summer, and they told the king the 
tidings that Earl Hakon and many landed-men 
with him had come in the evening to Frek-isle 
Sound with a much throng. " And they are minded 
to take the life of thee, king, and of thy folk, if 
they have might thereto." 

Now the king sends his men up on to the fell 
which there is ; and when they came up on to the 
fell, then saw they Bear-isle to the north, and they 
saw that from the north there fared a great host 
and many ships. Then they come down again and 
tell the king that the host was coming from the 

The king was lying here before them with 
twelve ships, and now he let blow up, and unship 
the tilts, and they took to their oars ; and when they 

CLXXXVIII StoryofOlaf the Holy. 363 

were all arrayed and were putting out of the harbour, 
then the host of the bonders fared from them north 
past Thiotandi, and had five-and-twenty ships. 
Then the king steered on the inside of Nyrfi, and 
up past Houndham. But when King Olaf came 
off Borgund, then came to meet him the ship which 
Aslak had owned, and when they saw King Olaf 
they told him their tidings, that Vigleik, son of 
Arni, had taken the life of Aslak Pate o' Fitiar for 
that he had slain Erling Skialgson. The king- 
took these tidings sorely to heart, yet he might not 
tarry his journey for this unpeace ; so he fared on 
in through Way-sound and through Skot. Then 
sundered his company from him ; there fared from 
him Kalf Arnison and many other landed-men and 
shipmasters, and made their way to the earl. But 
King Olaf held on his journey and letted not till 
he came to Todar-firth, and lay-to at Wall-dale, 
and there went from his ships ; and there he had 
but five ships, and he drew them ashore, and left 
the sails and shrouds to be kept there. Sithence 
he pitched his land-tent on the ere called Suit, 
where there be fair meads, and he raised a cross 
therebeside on the ere. 

Now there dwelt a goodman hight Brusi, and 
he was the headman there in the valley. After 
a while Brusi and many other bonders came down 
to see King Olaf, and welcomed him well, as was 
meet ; and he made himself blithe to their welcome. 
Then the king asked if there were any pass up 
from the dale unto Lesiar. Brusi told him that 
there was a scree which was called Skerf-scree : 
" but that is passable neither for man nor horse." 

364 The Saga Library. CLXXXIX 

King Olaf answered him : " That must we now 
try, goodman ; by God's will it shall do. So come 
ye here now to-morrow with your yoke-beasts and 
yourselves, and let us see what the growth thereof 
may be when we come to the scree, whether we 
may see any device for overcoming it with our 
horses and men." 


SO when day came, the bonders went down 
with their yoke-beasts, as the king had bade 
them. Then they flit by the yoke-beasts 
their goods and garments, but all the folk went 
afoot, even the king himself. He walked along 
until he came to the place called Cross-brent, and 
rested when he came on to the brent, and sat there 
a while, and looked down upon the firth, and spake : 
" A hard journey have they gotten me in hand, 
those my landed-men who have shifted their faith, 
but who for a while were my friends, and full- 
trusted." There are now standing two crosses on 
the brent where the king sat. 

Then the king got a-horseback and rode up 
along the dale, and letted not till they came to the 
scree ; then the king asked Brusi if there were any 
mountain-bothies there wherein they might dwell. 
He said there were. And the king pitched his 
land-tent, and was there the night through. 

But in the morning the king bade them go to 
the scree and try if they might get wains across 
it. Then they fared thereto, and the king sat at 

CLXXXIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 365 

home in his land-tent; and in the evening the 
king's men and the bonders came home, and said 
they had had great toil and got nothing done, and 
said that never would a road be laid thereover. 
So here they tarried another night, and all night 
was the king at his prayers. And forthwith when 
the king found that day was dawning, he bade men 
go to the scree, and try again if they could get 
wains thereover. They went, but all unwilling ; 
they said that they should not get aught done. But 
when they were gone away, then came to the king 
the man who had to look to the victuals, and he 
said there was no more victual than two carcasses 
of oxen. " But thou hast four hundred of thine 
own band, and there be an hundred bonders 
besides." Then said the king that he should put 
up all the kettles, and let come into each kettle 
somewhat of flesh-meat ; and so it was done. But 
the king went thereto, and made the sign of the 
cross thereover, and bade serve the meat. But 
the king fared to Skerf-scree, wherethrough they 
were to break the road. And when the king came 
there, all sat and were mithered with hard toil. 
Then said Brusi : " I said thee, king, and thou 
wouldst not trow me, that we might get nought 
done with this scree." 

Then the king laid down his cloak, and said that 
they should all fall to and try again. And so was 
it done, and then twenty men would flit whitherso- 
ever they pleased stones which an hundred men 
before could nowise get stirred, and by midday 
the road was broken so that it was passable to men 
and pack-horses no worse than on a plain field. 

366 The Saga Library. CLXXXIX 

Then the king went down again to the place where 
the victuals were, which is now called Olaf's-cave 
A well was there anigh to the cave, and therein 
the king washed himself. And if the household 
creatures of men fall sick in the dale, and drink ot 
that water there, they are bettered of their sickness. 

Now the king went to meat, and they all. And 
when he was full, he asked if any mountain-bothy 
were in the valley up beyond the scree and anigh 
to the fell, wherein they might abide the night 
through. Brusi says : " There are bothies which 
are called Graenings ; but there may no man abide 
nightlong because of the hauntings of trolls and 
evil wights which are there about the bothies." 

Therewith the king said that they should array 
their journey, for that he would be the night 
through at the bothies. 

Then came to him the man who looked after the 
victual, and told him there was an exceeding plenty 
of victual, and " I know not whence they have 
come." The king thanked God for his sending, 
and he let make loads of meat for the bonders, 
who went adown the valley, but he himself abode 
at the bothies through the night. But at midnight, 
whenas men were asleep, a hideous crying was 
heard at the milking-stead, and it said : " So burn 
me now the prayers of King Olaf," says that wight, 
" that now I may not abide in my own home ; and 
now must I flee, and never again come to this 

But in the morning when men awoke, the king 
went up towards the fell, and spake to Brusi : 
" Here a homestead shall be reared, and whatso 

CXC The Story of Olaf the Holy. 367 

bonder shall abide here will ever have his where- 
withal, and never shall corn freeze here, though it 
freeze above the stead and below." Then King 
Olaf went over the fells, and came down to Oneby, 
and was there through the night. By then had 
King Olaf been king over Norway fifteen winters, 
counting that winter when they were both in the 
land, he and Earl Svein, and this one, whereof for 
a while now the tale hath been told, and which had 
worn already past Yule when he left his ships and 
went up aland, as is aforewrit. This part of his 
kingdom first wrote Priest Ari Thorgilson the 
Wise, who was both a teller of truth, of good 
memory, and so old a man that he minded those 
men, and had stories of them, who themselves 
were so old, that for eld's sake they might well 
remember these tidings ; even as he hath himself 
said in his books, where he has named the men 
by name of whom he had gotten his lore. But the 
common tale is that Olaf was king over Norway 
for fifteen winters before he fell ; but they who so 
say, count to the reign of Svein that winter which 
was his last in the land ; for after that Olaf was 
king for fifteen winters, while he lived. 


WHEN King Olaf had been the night 
through at Nesiar, he fared with his 
folk day after day, first to Gudbrands- 
dales and thence on to Heathmark. Then was it 
shown who were his friends, for now they followed 

368 The Saga Library. CXC 

him ; but the others then sundered from him who 
with less uprightness had served him ; but some 
turned about to ill-will and full enmity, even as 
became clear. And now it was found in many 
Uplanders, that they had liked right ill the slaying 
of Thorir, as is aforesaid. 

King Olaf gave leave to go home to many of 
his men who had children to look after ; for these 
men deemed it unclear what peace would be given 
to the goods of such men as might fare out of the 
land with the king. 

And now the king made it clear to his friends 
that he had made up his mind to fare away out of 
the land, first east into the Swede-realm, and there 
to take counsel whither he should turn thence. 
But he bade his friends bear in mind, that he was 
yet minded to seek to the land and back again to 
his realm, if God should grant him long life ; and 
he said that it was his foreboding that all folk in 
Norway would still be bound to his service. " But 
I am minded to think," says he, "that Earl Hakon 
will but a little while rule over Norway ; and to 
many men no wonder will that seem, whereas Earl 
Hakon has come short of good luck against me 
before. But this, few men will trow, though I tell 
what my mind forebodeth me, which toucheth Knut 
the Rich, that he will be a dead man within the 
space of few winters, and all his realm will be come 
to nought, and there will be no uprising of his kin- 
dred, if so it fare whereas my words point." 

So when the king made an end of his tale, men 
dight their journey ; and the king turned with 
what cornpany followed him east to Eidwood. 

CXCI The story of Olaf the Holy. 369 

That tide was with him Astrid the queen, Ulf- 
hild, their daughter, Magnus, son of King Olaf, 
Rognvald, son of Brusi, those sons of Arni, Thor- 
berg, Finn, and Arni, and more landed-men yet; 
he had a company of chosen men. Biorn the 
Marshal had gotten leave to go home. He fared 
back home to his house ; and many other friends 
of the king went back to their homesteads with his 
leave. The king bade them let him know if such 
tidings should befall in the land as it was needful 
for him to know of. And so the king turned off 
upon his ways. 


IT is to be told of the journey of King Olaf, 
that he went first from Norway east over 
Eidwood unto Vermland and then out to 
Waterby, and thence through that wood whereas 
the road lieth, and came down on to Nerick. 
There he happened on a rich man and wealthy, 
called Sigtrygg. His son hight Ivar, who there- 
after became a noble man. There King Olaf 
tarried with Sigtrygg through the spring. But 
when summer came on, King Olaf arrayed his 
journey and got him a ship. And he fared that 
summer, and letted not till he came east to Garth- 
realm to the meeting of King Jarisleif, him and 
his queen, Ingigerd. Queen Astrid, and Ulfhild 
the king's daughter, were left behind in Sweden, but 
the king took Magnus his son, with him to the east. 
King Jarisleif gave King Olaf a hearty welcome, 

IV. B B 

370 The Saga Library. CXCII 

and bade him abide there with him and have land 
as much as he needed for the costs of holding of 
his company. That King Olaf took with thanks, 
and tarried there. So it is said, that King Olaf 
was devout and prayerful unto God all the days of 
his life. But from the time that he found his reign 
was waning, and his enemies were waxing mightier, 
then he laid all his heart to the serving of God ; he 
was then hindered herefrom no more by other cares, 
or the toil which aforetime he had had on hand. 
For he had throughout all that time whenas he 
sat in kingdom, toiled for that which he deemed to 
be the most needful : first to free and deliver the 
land from the thraldom of outland lords ; and 
next to turn the folk of the land to the right faith ; 
and therewithal to frame laws and land's-right ; 
and this part did he for righteousness' sake to 
punish them who were of a wrongful will. 


IT had been greatly the wont in Norway, that 
the sons of landed-men or of mighty bonders 
would fare aboard warships and gain for them 
wealth by harrying both inland and outland. But 
from the time that Olaf took kingdom, he made 
his lands so peaceful that he brought to nought all 
robbing there in the land. Though sons of rich 
men should break the peace, or do what the king 
deemed unlawful, and if punishment could be 
brought upon them, then let he nought else befall 

CXCI I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 37 1 

them than losing life or limb ; and there availed 
against it neither prayers of men nor money-bidding. 
So says Sigvat the Skald : 

They who wrought out-raids often 
Bade to the king rich-minded 
Red gold to buy guilt off them : 
Ever the king naysaid it. 
The hair of the men there bade he 
Shear with the sword : they bided 
Pains manifest for lifting ; 
Suchwise shall the land be warded. 

And moreover he sang thus : 

The much-dear king, who full fed 
The wolves most, therewith maimed 
The kin of thieves and reivers. 
Thuswise he cut short thievings. 
The good king let each bold one 
Of the thieves go thenceforth lacking 
Both hands and feet. In suchwise 
Is the peace of the landsfolk bettered. 

That most to high might pointed, 
That there did do the land's-ward 
Shear pates of a fearful-many 
Of vikings with keen weapons. 
The bounteous Magnus' father 
Let wield much work was gainsome. 
I say that the most of victories 
Thick Olaf's fame did further. 

Men mighty and unmighty he let abide by one 
and the same penalty ; but this the men of the 
land deemed over-mastery, and were fulfilled of 
hatred in return therefor, when they lost their kins- 
men by a rightful doom of the king, though sooth- 
ful were their guilts. This was the upheaving 
of that uprising which the folk of the land made 

372 The Saga L ibrary. C X C 1 1 1 

against King Olaf, that they would not thole his 
justice, but he would rather let go his dignity than 
his rightwise dooms. Now nought rightly found 
was the charge laid to him, that he was niggard of 
wealth to his men ; he was the most bounteous of 
men to his friends. But this was the cause why 
folk upraised unpeace against him, that to men he 
seemed hard and given to punishment, whereas 
King Knut bade forth money measureless. But the 
great lords were hereby hoodwinked, in that he pro- 
mised to each of them dignity and dominion ; and 
therewithal men in Norway were fain to take Earl 
Hakon, whereas he had been a man most beloved 
of the landfolk when aforetime he ruled over the 


EARL HAKON had held his host out of 
Thrandheim, and fared south to Mere to 
meet King Olaf, as is aforewrit. But 
when the king steered up the firths the earl made 
for him thither; and then came to meet him 
Kalf, the son of Arni, and more men who had 
parted company with King Olaf; and a good 
welcome was given to Kalf Sithence the earl 
held up thither, whereas the king had set up his 
ships, in Walldale, to wit, of Todar-firth. There 
the earl took the ships which the king owned, and 
let run them out and array them, and then men 
were allotted to the masterships thereof With 
the earl there was a man who was called Jokul, a 

CXCIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 373 

man of Iceland, son of Bard, the son of Jokul, out 
of Waterdale. Jokul was allotted to the steering 
of the Bison, which King Olaf himself had had. 
Jokul sang this stave : 

'Twas my lot from Suit to steer it, 
Thick Olaf s own ship. Look I 
For the storm 'gainst the bow's reindeer, 
But late shall hear the home-wife 
Of my quailing. O ye hill-sides 
Of the flame of bow's-stand, soothly 
Robbed was the king, the keen-one, 
Of victory in the summer. 

This is the swiftest to tell hereof, which befell a 
very long time after, when Jokul fell in the way 
of King Olaf s host in Gotland and was taken, that 
the king let lead him out to the hewing, and a 
wand was twisted into his hair, and held by a 
certain man; and Jokul sat down on a certain 
bank. Then a man made ready to hew him. But 
when he heard the whine of the stroke, he raised 
himself up, and the blow came on to his head and 
was a mickle wound. The king saw that it was a 
bane-sore, and bade them then leave him alone. 
Jokul sat up, and wrought this stave : 

Now smart the wounds a-weary, 
'Midst better things oft sat I. 
The wound is on us, that one 
Unsluggish, red stream spouting. 
From this same wound blood gusheth : 
I am grown wont to toiling ; 
Helm-glorious king wage-bounteous 
Warps over me his anger. 

Thereupon Jokul died. 

374 The Saga Library, CXCIV 


KALF ARNISON fared with Earl Hakon 
north to Thrandheim, and the earl bade 
him be with him and do him service. 
Kalf says he would first go up to Eggja, to his 
house, and thereafter take rede thereover. So did 
Kalf. But when he came home he speedily found 
it out that Sigrid his wife was somewhat big- 
hearted, and told up her griefs which she said she 
had had of King dlaf ; that first, that he had let 
slay her husband, Olvir ; " and now thereafter," she 
says, "two of my sons, and thou, Kalf, wert at their 
doing away ; that was the last thing I had looked 
for of thee." 

Kalf says that it was mickle against his will 
that Thorir was taken from life ; " and," says he, 
" I offered ransom for him, and when Griotgard 
was felled, I lost Arnbiorn, my brother." 

She says : " Well it is that thou shouldst have 
such a lot from the king, for maybe thou wilt 
avenge him, though thou wilt not avenge me of 
my sorrows ; thou sawest, when Thorir, thy foster- 
son, was slain, of what worth the king accounted 

Suchlike tales of woe had she up ever to Kalf. 
Kalf oft answered in surly wise; yet at last it 
turned out that he was led on by her urging, and 
gave his word to become the earl's liegeman if 
the earl would eke his grants. Sigrid sent word 
to the earl, and let tell him where things were 
gotten in the matter of Kalf. And forthwith when 
the earl knew thereof, he sent word to Kalf to the 

CXCIV The story of Olaf the Holy. 375 

end that he should come out to the town and see 
him, Kalf nowise laid that journey under his 
head, and a little sithence fared out to Nidoyce, 
and there found Earl Hakon, and had a right good 
welcome there ; and he and the earl talked their 
affairs over, and there in all things they were of one 
mind, and settled this between them, that Kalf 
became the earl's liegeman, and took from him 
big grants. Sithence fared Kalf home to his house, 
and he had the rule then of the greatest part of 
Inner Thrandheim. 

But so soon as spring came, Kalf arrayed a ship 
which he owned, and so soon as he was boun, he 
sailed into the main sea, and held his ship west to 
England, for he had heard tell of King Knut, that 
he had sailed early in the spring from Denmark 
west to England. Then had King Knut given 
earldom in Denmark to Harald, the son of Thorkel 
the High. 

Kalf Arnison went straightway to meet King 
Knut when he came to England. So says Biarni 
the Goldbrow-skald : 

The king with stem did doubtless 
Shear the main sea to eastward. 
Fight-weary Harald's brother 
■ Must needs go visit Garthrealm. 
But after ye twain parted 
Swiftly to Knut thou soughtest. 
Unwont am I to gather 
Light lies about men's doings. 

But when Kalf came to meet King Knut, the 
king gave him a wondrous good welcome, and had 
him to talk with him. And this was in the talk of 

37^ The Saga Library. CXCV 

him and King Knut, that the king bade Kalf tobind 
him to make an uprising against Olaf the Thick, if 
he should seek aback to the land; "but I," says 
the king, " shall give thee earldom then, and let 
thee rule over Norway ; but Hakon, my kinsman, 
shall fare back to me, for that is most handy to 
him, seeing that he is so true of heart, that I think 
he would not shoot a shaft against King Olaf if 
they should happen to meet." 

Kalf gave ear to what King Knut said, and was 
fain enough of the dignity ; so this plan was settled 
between them, King Knut and Kalf, and Kalf 
arrayed himself for his home-journey, and at part- 
ing King Knut gave him gifts most honourable. 
Of this Biarni the Skald telleth : 

Thou hadst, O fight-bold earl's son. 
To thank the lord of England 
For gifts : forsooth most meetly 
Thou laidst thy case before him. 
The London's king let find thee 
Land, ere from the West thou faredst. 
Yet herein was there dallying, 
And thy life is nowise little. 

Thereafter Kalf fared back to Norway and 
came home to his house. 


THAT summer Earl Hakon fared from the 
land and west to England. And when he 
came there, King Knut gave him a good 
welcome. The earl had a troth-plight in England, 

CXCVI The story of Olaf the Holy. 211 

and he went to fetch his bride, being minded to 
make his bridal in Norway, but gathered in in 
England such goods as he deemed were hardest to 
come by in Norway. The earl arrayed him in the 
harvest-tide for the home-journey and got somewhat 
late boun ; but he sailed off into the main when he 
was boun. But of his journey this is to be said, 
that that ship was lost, and no man was saved 
thereof. But it is the saying of some people that 
the ship was seen north off Caithness one day at eve 
in a great storm, and the wind blowing out into the 
Pentland firth. And those who will follow this tale, 
say that the ship must have been driven into the 
whirl. However, folk know for certain that Earl 
Hakon was lost at sea, and nothing came to land 
that was on board that ship. That same autumn 
chapmen told there that tidings went about England, 
how that men deemed the earl would be lost ; any- 
how all folk knew that that autumn he came not to 
Norway. And then the land was without a lord. 


BIORN the Marshal had sat at home at his 
house from the time he parted from King 
Olaf. Biorn was a man of renown, and 
that was soon told of far and wide, that he had sat 
him down in quiet. Earl Hakon and other men 
of rule in the land heard the same. Then they 
sent men and messages to Biorn ; and when the 
messengers came to their journey's end, Biorn 
gave them a good welcome^ 

37 8 The Saga Library. CXCVI 

Sithence Biorn called the messengers to him for 
a talk, and asked them of their errand. But he 
who was at the head of them spoke, and bare to 
Biorn the greetings of King Knutand Earl Hakon, 
and of yet more lords ; " and this follows," says 
he, " that King Knut hath heard mickle of thee, 
and this thereto, that thou hast long followed Olaf 
the Thick, and been a great unfriend to King 
Knut. That he deemeth ill, whereas he will be 
thy friend, as of all other doughty men, so soon as 
thou wilt turn away from being his unfriend ; and 
the one thing for thee to do now, is to turn thither 
for avail and friendship, whereas is most plenty to 
look for, and which all men in the world's northern 
parts have in worship. Ye, who have been follow- 
ing Olaf, may now see for yourselves, how he hath 
parted from you : ye are all left with nought to 
fall back upon in face of King Knut and his men. 
Seeing that last summer ye harried his lands and 
slew his friends, then is this to be taken with 
thanks, that the king biddeth you friendship ; for 
more befitting were it, that thou shouldst pray 
therefor, or bid wealth therefor." 

But when he had closed his harangue Biorn 
answered thus : " I am now of will to sit at home 
at my house and not to serve lords." 

The messenger answers: "Such as thou are 
men for kings. And I can tell thee this : that thou 
hast two choices in thine hand ; one, to fare abroad 
an outlaw from thy lands, even as now fareth Olaf, 
thy fellow ; the other may well be deemed better 
worth looking at, to wit, to take the friendship of 
King Knut and Earl Hakon, and become their 

CXCVII The story of Olaf the Holy. 379 

man ; to give them thy faith to this end, and here 
to take thy guerdon." Therewith he poured forth 
English silver out of a great pouch. 

Biorn was a man eager of money, and mickle 
mindsick was he, and grew silent, when he saw the 
silver. He turned it over in his mind what rede 
he should take. He deemed it a great matter to 
lose all he owned, and deemed it uncertain that 
King Olaf would ever rear his head again in Nor- 
way. And when the messenger saw that Biorn's 
mind veered about at the sight of the money, he 
cast forth two thick golden rings and said : " Take 
the money, Biorn, and swear the oath. I behight 
thee that this wealth will be of little worth besides 
that which thou wilt have, if thou go to see King 
Knut." But by the greatness of the money, and 
by the fair behests of great gifts of wealth, he let 
himself be turned to avarice, and took up the 
money, and then went into fealty and oaths for 
troth to King Knut and Earl Hakon. And there- 
withal the messengers fared away. 


BIORN the Marshal heard the tidings which 
were told, how that Earl Hakon was lost. 
Then his mind turned, and he rued him 
sorely of having broken his faith to King Olaf, 
and deemed he was free of the vows he had given 
of fealty to Earl Hakon. For Biorn now thought 
there might be some hope of uprearing the dominion 
of King Olaf, should he come back to Norway, so 

380 The Saga Library. CXCVII 

that it lay lordless before him. So Biorn arrayed 
his journey speedily, and had certain men with 
him, and went his ways day and night, a-horse- 
back where he might, a-shipboard where he needs 
must. He letted not his journey till he came east 
into Garthrealm to King Olaf in winter, about 
Yuletide. The king was right glad, when Biorn 
met him, and asked for many tidings from the 
north from Norway. Biorn said the earl was lost, 
and the land left without a ruler. At these tidings 
the men were right glad who had followed King 
Olaf out of Norway, and had had there lands and 
kinsmen and friends, and who were sorely sick for 
home. Many other tidings from Norway Biorn 
told to the king, such as he was greatly wistful to 
know. Then the king asked after his friends as to 
how they kept faith with him, and Biorn said that 
was all with ups and downs ; and therewith Biorn 
stood up and fell at the feet of the king, and took 
his foot about, and said : " All in God's power and 
thine, O king ! I have taken money from the men 
of Knut, and sworn oaths of fealty to them ; but 
now will I follow thee, and never sunder from thee 
while we are both alive." 

The king answers : " Stand up speedily, Biorn ; 
thou shalt be in peace with me. Boot this to God. 
I may well wot that few men will be now in Nor- 
way who will keep their faith with me, when such 
as thou turn off. And true it is, that men sit 
there in great trouble, because I am far off, and 
they sit before the unpeace of my foes." 

Biorn told the king who mostly took the lead in 
raising up hatred against the king and his men. 

CXCVIII The Story of Ola f the Holy. 381 

Thereto he named the sons of Erling of Jadar, 
and other kinsmen of theirs, Einar Thambarskel- 
hr, Kalf Arnison, Thorir Hound, and Harek of 


SITHENCE King Olaf came to Garthrealm 
he had great imaginings, and turned it 
over in his mind what rede he had best 
take. King Jarisleif and Queen Ingigerd bade 
King Olaf dwell with them, and take over the 
dominion called Vulgaria, and that is one part of 
Garthrealm ; and there in that land the folk was 
heathen. King Olaf bethought him in his mind 
of this offer ; but when he laid it before his men, 
they all were loth to take up their abode there, 
and egged the king on to betake himself north to 
Norway to his own kingdom. The king would be 
still further thinking of this, to lay down his king- 
dom, and fare out into the world unto Jerusalem, 
or into some other holy places, and there to go 
under the Rule. 

Hereunto, howsoever, his mind would mostly 
turn, to think if any means might betide, whereby 
he should get him his kingdom in Norway. 

But when he had this in his heart, he would 
bring it to mind that for the first ten winters of his 
kingdom all things turned out profitable and happy 
to him, but afterwards all his redes were to him 
heavy to work, and hard to carry through, and all 
ventures for good luck went against him. Now 
for this reason he misdoubted him whether it 

382 The Saga Library. CXCIX 

would be wise rede to try luck so much as to 
fare with a little strength into the hands of his 
foes, seeing that all the multitude of the folk 
of the land had gathered them together to with- 
stand him. Such imaginings oft he bore, and he 
put his case upon God, and bade him let that 
come up, which he saw would be of best gain. He 
would be turning these matters over in his mind, 
and knew not what he should take to ; for how- 
ever he told the matter up before him, ever was 
trouble easy to see therein. 


IT was on a night, that King Olaf lay In his 
bed, and kept awake long through the night 
thinking over his plans, and being filled with 
ofreat imaainino^s in his mind. But when his mind 
grew over-mithered, sleep sank upon him, yet so 
light that he thought he was awaking and saw all 
that was betiding in the house. He saw a man 
stand at his bed, mickle of worship, clad in glorious 
raiment ; and the king's thought boded him most, 
that there would be come King Olaf Tryggvison. 
This man spoke to him : " Art thou very sick at 
heart over thy plans, what thou shalt take up ? It 
seemeth marvellous to me, that thou shouldst be 
turning this about in thy mind ; and this withal, 
that thou shouldst be minded to lay down the 
kingdom which God hath given thee ; and that 
thou shouldst have this mind withal, to abide here 
and to take over dominion from kings outland and 

CC The Story of Olaf the Holy. 383 

unknown to thee. Fare thou, rather, back to thy 
realm which thou hast gotten by heritage, and 
ruled long over with what power God hath granted 
thee, and let not thine underlings affright thee. It 
is a king's fame to conquer his enemies, and a 
glorious death to fall in battle with his war-host ; 
or dost thou doubt at all having the right on thy 
side in this thy contest? Nought shalt thou do it, 
to hide the truth from thyself: for that cause 
boldly mayst thou seek to the Land, whereas God 
will bear thee witness that that is thine own." 

And when the king awoke, he thought he saw 
the countenance of the man as he went away. So 
thenceforth he hardened his heart and made strong 
that mind alone of faring back to Norway, even as 
he had been eagerest for all along ; and he found 
that all his men would the rathest that he should 
so do. So he talked it into his mind that the land 
would be easily won, since it lay lordless, even 
as he had heard. And he was minded to think 
that if he came thereto himself, many would be 
minded to give him help. And when the king 
made clear this rede to his men, they all took it 
right thankfully. 


SO it is said that, while King Olaf tarried in 
Garthrealm, this hap befell there, that the 
son of a noble widow got a boil of the 
throat which grew so large that the boy might get 
down no food, so that he was thought to be at death's 

384 The Saga Library, CC 

door. The mother of the boy went to Queen 
Ingigerd, whereas she was of her acquaintancy,and 
showed the boy to her. The queen said she had 
no leechdoms to lay thereto : " Go thou," says she, 
'' to King Olaf ; he is the best leech here, and bid 
him fare his hands over the hurt of the boy, and 
tell him these words of mine, if otherwise he will 
not do it." 

She did even according to the words of the 
queen ; and so when she found the king, she told 
him that her son was at death's door from a throat- 
boil, and bade him fare his hands over the boil ; 
but the king said he was no leech, and bade her 
fare thither where leeches were to be found. She 
said the queen had shown her thither : " And she 
bade me bare her word to thee, that thou shouldest 
lay leech-craft hereto, what thou couldest ; and told 
me withal, that thou art the best leech in the 

Then the king bestirred him and fared his 
hands over the throat of the boy, and stroked the 
boil much long, until the boy could move his 
mouth. Then took the king bread, and brake it, 
and laid it in the shape of a cross in his hollow 
palm, and syne laid it in the mouth of the boy, but 
he swallowed it down. And from that nick of 
time all pain went from the throat, and the boy 
was in a few days all whole, and the mother and 
other kinsmen and acquaintance of the boy were 
right fain at heart thereat. And then first folk 
deemed that King Olaf had such great hands of 
healing, as is said about those men who are much 
endowed with that art, that they have good hands. 

CCI-I I The Story of Olaf the Holy. 385 

But later, when his working of wonders became 
known to all folk, this was taken for a true miracle. 


THIS hap befell on a Sunday, that King 
Olaf sat in his high-seat at table, and was 
so deep in imaginings that he heeded not 
the hours. He had a knife in one hand, in the 
other a piece of firwood wherefrom he whittled 
certain chips. A boy in waiting stood before him 
and held a board-bowl. He saw what the king 
was doing, and knew that he himself was think- 
ing of other things. He said : " Monday it is to- 
morrow, lord." The king looked to him, when he 
heard this, and it came into his mind what he had 
done. So the king bade bring him a lighted 
candle, and he swept up into his hand all the chips 
he had whittled, and set light thereto, and let the 
chips burn in the hollow of his hand ; whence it 
might be seen that he would hold fast all laws 
and commandments, and had no will to transgress 
wherein he wotted most right to be. 


NOW when King Olaf had made up his 
mind to turn back home, he set the matter 
forth before King Jarisleif and Queen 
Ingigerd. They letted him of that journey, and 
said this, that within their realm he should have 
such dominion as he might deem seemly, and bade 
IV. c c 

386 The Saga Library. CCIII 

him not fare into the power of his foemen with 
such a Httle fellowship as he had there. Then 
King- Olaf told them his dreams, and this there- 
withal, that he was minded to think it was the will 
of God. So when they found that the king had 
made up his mind to fare back to Norway, they 
offered him any avail for his journey which he 
would take from them. The king thanked them 
with fair words for their good will, saying he would 
be fain to take from them whatever he stood in 
need of for his journey. 


FORTHWITH on the back of Yule King 
Olaf was busy at his arrayal. He had 
wellnigh two hundred of his own men, and 
King Jarisleif fetched them all yoke-beasts and 
gear, such as they needed. And when he was 
ready, then he fared off; and King Jarisleif and 
Queen Ingigerd saw him off full worshipfully. 
But his son Magnus he left behind with the king. 
Now King Olaf fared from the east, first over 
ice all down to the main sea ; and when spring 
came on and the ice loosened, they arrayed their 
ships. And when they were boun and a fair wind 
came, they set sail, and their journey sped well, 
and King Olaf hove with his ships into Gotland, 
where he learnt tidings both from Sweden and 
Denmark, and all the way from Norway. By that 
time folk had learnt for sure that Earl Hakon had 

CCIV The story of Olaf the Holy. 387 

been lost, and that the land of Norway was lord- 
less. Both to the king and his men their journey 
seemed likely. And when a fair wind befell they 
sailed thence and made for Sweden. The king 
sailed with his company into the Low, and stood 
on further into the land even to Riveroyce, and 
then sent his men to see Onund the Swede-king, 
and appointed a meeting with him. King Onund 
gave good ear to the message of his brother-in- 
law, and fared to meet King Olaf according to the 
word he had sent thereto. Queen Astrid withal, 
with those men who had followed her, came to see 
King Olaf, and a meeting of great joy there was 
betwixt all these. The Swede-king gave a hearty 
o-ood welcome to Olaf his brother-in-law when 
they met. 


NOW shall be told what they were at in 
Norway through these days. Thorir 
Hound had had the Finn-journey these 
two winters, and had been both winters for long 
on the fells, and had gotten him measureless 
wealth. He had had many kind of chafferings 
with the Finns. He had let make for himself 
twelve coats of reindeer - skin with so mickle 
wizardry that no weapon could bite on them, yea, 
mickle less than on a ring-byrny. 

But in the latter spring Thorir arrayed a long- 
ship of his and manned it with his house-carles. 
He summoned bonders together and craved a 

388 The Saga Library, CCV 

muster from out of all the northernmost Thing- 
lands, and drew there together great multitudes of 
folk, and fared from the north in the spring with 
all that host. 

Harek of Thiotta had a great hosting, and got 
mickle company, and to that faring there betook 
them many more men of worship, though these 
were the most renowned thereof. Then they gave 
it out that this war-host should fare against King 
Olaf, and ward the land against him if he should 
come from the east. 


to say in the rule of Outer Thrandheim, 
from the time that the death of Earl 
Hakon was heard of; for he deemed that he and 
his son Eindridi had the best title to those lands 
and chattels which the earl had owned. And now 
Einar called to mind those promises and friendly 
words which King Knut had given him at their 
parting. Then let Einar array a good ship he owned, 
and went thereon himself with a great company. 
But when he was boun, he set off south along the 
land, and then west over sea, and letted not his 
journey till he came west to England, and straight- 
way went to King Knut. The king welcomed him 
well. Sithence Einar bare forth his errand before 
the king, and said as much as that he was come 
for those promises which the king had bespoken 
him, that Einar should bear a title of dignity over 

CCVI The Story of Olaf the Holy, ' 389 

Norway if it were no matter of Earl Hakon. 
Kinof Knut said that that matter now turned alto- 
gether another way ; "for now," says he, " I have 
sent men and tokens to Denmark to Svein my 
son with this message, that I have behight him 
dominion in Norway. But I will hold friendship 
with thee, and thou shalt have name-boot from 
me as thou hast birth thereto, and be a landed- 
man, and have mickle grants, and be as much 
before other landed-men as thou art a man of 
greater deeds than other landed-men." 

Then Einar saw concerning his matter how his 
errand would speed, and arrayed himself to go 
back home. But whereas he knew the purpose 
of the king, and that, if King Olaf should come 
from the east, it would not look like peace in the 
land, it came into Einar's mind that nought would 
be gained by hurrying on the journey beyond 
what was of the gentlest, if they should have to 
fieht Kine Olaf, and have then no more furtherance 
of dominion than erst. So Einar sailed into the 
main sea, when he was ready, and came to Norway 
just when the greatest tidings that befell in Norway 
that summer had already come to pass. 


THE chieftains of Norway kept out spies 
east towards Sweden and south to Den- 
mark, lest King Olaf come from the east 
from Garthrealm ; and forthwith they heard, as 
fast as men could speed, that King Olaf had come 

390 The Saga Library. CCVII 

to Sweden. And when that was known for truth, 
a war-bidding went throughout all the land, and 
all the folk were called out to the hosting, and thus 
drew an host together. But the landed-men of 
Agdir and Rogaland and Hordland parted in two 
ways : some turned north, some east, deeming 
that both ways an host was needed toward. The 
sons of Erling of Jadar turned eastward with all 
the host that was to the east of them, and were 
captains over that host. But northward turned 
them Aslak of Finn-isle and Erlend of Gerdi, and 
such landed-men as were to the north of them. 
These who were now named were all oathsworn 
to King Knut to take the life of King Olaf if hap 
thereof should be given them. 


BUT when that was heard in Norway that 
King Olaf had come from the east to 
Sweden, then gathered together such of 
his friends as were minded to give him aid. The 
noblest man in that company was Harald Sigurd- 
son, brother to King Olaf. He was then fifteen 
winters old, a big man of growth, and manly to 
behold. But there were many other noble men 
besides. They had got together six hundred men 
in all when they left the Uplands, and with that 
company they made their way east through Eid- 
wood unto Vermland, and thence they held on east 
across the woodlands all the way to Sweden, and 
then asked about the journeyings of King Olaf. 

CCVIII The story of Olaf the Holy. 391 


KING OLAF was in Sweden through the 
spring, and had spies thence north away 
to Norway, and gat thence but one 
hearing, to wit, that all unpeaceful would it be to 
go thither ; and the men who came from the north 
letted him much from faring into the land. But he 
had set his heart on the one thing, to go, as much 
as ever. 

King Olaf asked in speech with King Onund 
what aid he would give him to seek to his land. 
King Onund answers thus, and says that it was 
not much to the mind of the Swedes to fare a 
warfare into Norway. " We know," says he, 
" that the Norwegians be hard and mickle men of 
battle, and ill to seek to with unpeace. Now I shall 
not be slow to tell thee what I will lay to thee : I 
will get thee four hundred men, and do thou choose 
out of the companies of my guard good warriors 
and well arrayed for fighting. Thereto will I give 
thee leave to fare over my land, and get thee all 
company, whatsoever thou mayest gather, or which 
is willing to follow thee." This offer King Olaf 
took, and arrayed him for his journey. But Astrid 
the queen, and Ulfhild, the king's daughter, were 
left behind in Sweden. 

392 The Saga Library. CCIX-X 


NOW when King Olaf hove up his journey, 
there came to him the host that the 
Swede-king had given him, four hun- 
dred men, to wit. The king fared such ways as 
the Swedes knew how to point out. They made 
their way up inland into the marches, and came to 
the country called Ironstone-land. There came to 
meet the kine that folk which had fared from Nor- 
way to join him, as is aforesaid. Here he met 
Harald his brother, and many other kinsmen of 
his ; and a meeting of the greatest joy was that. 
And now they had altogether twelve hundred 


THERE was a man named Day, of whom 
it is told that he was the son of that King 
Ring who had fled away from his land 
before King Olaf. But men say that Ring was 
the son of Day, the son of Ring, the son of Harald 
Hairfair. Day was a kinsman of King Olaf, and 
father and son, Ring and Day, had ^taken up their 
abode in Sweden and got there dominion to rule 
over. In the spring, when King Olaf was come 
from the east to Sweden, he sent word to Day his 
kinsman, that Day should betake himself to the 
journey with him, with all the strength that he 
might muster ; and if they should make the land 

CCXI The story of Olaf the Holy. 393 

of Norway their own, Day was to have there 
dominion no less than his forefathers had had. 
But when this word came to Day, it fell well to 
his mind, for he was greatly wistful of faring to 
Norway, and there to take over the dominion 
which his kinsmen had had aforetime. He gave a 
swift answer to this matter, and behight his journey. 
Day was a man swift of word and swift of rede, ex- 
ceeding eager and of great valour, but naught sage 
of wits. Sithence he gathered together a company 
for himself, and got wellnigh twelve hundred men ; 
and with this host he went to join King Olaf. 


KING OLAF sent outword into the dwelled 
land to those men to come to him and 
follow him, who would have that for 
wealth-getting, to gather plunder, and have such 
forfeit wealth as the unfriends of the king might 
hold their hand over. 

Now King Olaf flitted forth his host and fared 
whiles through the woodland, whiles through 
wilderness, and often over big waters. They drew 
or bore their boats after them betwixt the waters. 
A crowded company of mark-men and some way- 
layers drifted to the king; and many places are 
sithence called Olafs booths where he had his 
quarters a-night-time. He letted not his journeys 
till he came into lamtland, whence he then went 
north on to the Keel. His host sundered about the 
dwelled land and went scatter-meal, so long as 

394 ^-^^ Saga Library. CCXII 

they wotted of no unpeace ahead. But always 
when they parted their host, the band of the 
Northmen followed the king, but Day went 
another way with his band, and the Swedes a third 
one with theirs. 


TWO men are named, one hight Gowk- 
Thorir, and the other Afrafasti ; they 
were way-layers, and the most of robbers, 
and they had with them thirty men of their fashion. 
These brethren were bigger and stronger than 
other men, nor did they lack for boldness and 
stout heart. They heard of the host that was 
faring over the land there, and they said between 
them, that it would be handy rede to fare to the 
king and to follow him to his own land, and there 
to go into a folk-battle with him, and thus to 
approve themselves ; for erst had they never been 
in battles such as were of hosts arrayed, and they 
were wistful exceeding to see the battles of the 
king. This rede their fellows liked well, and 
so they made their journey to find the king. 

And when they came there, they went with their 
band before the king, and all these fellows stood 
all-weaponed. They greeted him, and he asked 
what men they were. They named themselves, and 
said that they were men of that land. And there- 
withal they upbore their errand and bade the king 
to fare with him. 

The king said that it seemed to him that of 

CCXII The Story of Olaf the Holy, 395 

such men there would be good following ; " there- 
fore I am fain," says he, " to take such men ; but 
are ye Christian men ? " says he. 

Answers Gowk-Thorir, saying that he was 
neither Christian nor heathen : " We fellows have 
no other faith than this, that we trust to our might 
and main, and our victory-goodhap ; and that 
worketh enough for us." The king answers : "It 
is great scathe that men of such valiant bearing 
trow not in Christ, their Shaper." Answered 
Thorir : " Is there anyone in thy company, king, 
of the men of Christ, who hath waxed more in one 
day than we brethren." 

The king bade them be christened and take the 
right faith therewith : " And follow me thereafter, 
and I shall make you men of mickle worship ; but 
if ye will not this, then fare ye back about your 

Afrafasti answers, saying that he will take no 
christening; and therewithal they turn away. 
Then said Gowk-Thorir: "It is a great shame 
indeed that this king should make us castaways of 
his company; for I never was before whereas I 
was not partaker against any other man ; never 
shall I go back as things now stand." 

So they threw themselves in company with the 
other mark-men, and followed the host. 

And now King Olaf maketh his way westward 
towards the Keel. 

39^ The Saga Library. CCXIII 


NOW when King Olaf fared from the east 
over the Keel, and won on to the western 
part of the mountain, so that the land fell 
away thence westward towards the sea, then beheld 
he thence the land. Much folk went ahead of the 
king-, and much after him ; he rode there whereas 
was room about him, and he was hushed and spoke 
not to men. In such wise he rode on for a long 
while of the day, that he looked little about him. 
Then rode the bishop up to him and spoke to him, 
and asked whereof he was thinking, seeing he was 
so hushed. For the king was ever glad and of 
much speech with his men in the journey, and 
thus gladdened all who were anigh him. Then 
answered the king with mickle care : " Wondrous 
things have been borne before me a while. I saw 
now over Norway when I looked west over the bent 
of the mountain ; and I called to mind how that I 
had many a day been glad in that land. Then I 
had a sight so that I saw over all Thrandheim, 
and then over all Norway ; and the longer that 
sight was before my eye, then saw I ever the 
wider, right until I saw over all the world, both 
land and sea. I knew clearly those steads where I 
had been before and had seen ; but even as clearly 
saw I steads I had never seen before, some whereof 
I have heard tell of ; and even as well those which I 
have never erst heard tell of, both dwelt and undwelt, 
as wide as is the world." The bishop said that this 
was a vision of holy fashion and of right great mark. 

CCXIV The story of Olaf the Holy. 397 


WHEN AS the king sought down from 
the fell, there was there in their way a 
homestead called Sula, in the upper 
dwelling of the Verdale folk. Now when they 
drew down towards the homestead, there were 
acres lying beside the way, and the king bade his 
men fare quietly, and not to spoil for the bonder 
what was his own. And this men did well, while 
the king was anigh ; but the companies that came 
after gave no heed to this, and men so overran the 
acre that it was all laid down to earth. The bonder 
who dwelt there was called Thorgeir Fleck, He 
had two sons well grown toward manhood. Thor- 
geir gave to the king a right good welcome, and to 
his men withal, and offered him all the cheer that 
he had stuff to. The king took this in good part, 
and asked Thorgeir for tidings, what was toward 
in the land, or whether any gathering would be 
made against him. Thorgeir said that a great 
host had been drawn together there in Thrand- 
heim, and that landed-men had come there both 
from the south of the land, and from the north 
from Halogaland ; " but I wot not," says he, 
" whether they be minded to set that host against 
thee, or otherwhere." Then he made plaint to the 
king of his scathe, and of the unquiet of the king's 
men, in that they had beaten down and trodden 
all his acres. The king said it was ill hap that harm 
had been done to him. Thereafter the king rode 
to where the acre had been upstanding, and saw that 

398 The Saga Library, CCXV 

it was all laid to the ground. He rode round about 
it and said : " I look forward to this, goodman, that 
God will right thy loss, and that this field will be 
better in another week's time." And even as the 
king had said, that acre was of the best. The king 
tarried there the night, and arrayed his journey 
the next morning. He says that goodman Thor- 
geir shall fare with him, but Thorgeir bade his two 
sons for the journey. The king says they should not 
fare with him, but the lads would go, and the king 
bade them abide behind. But whereas they would 
not be letted, the king's courtiers would bind them. 
The king said when he saw that : " Let them fare ; 
they will come back again." And it went with 
the boys even as the king had said. 


THEN they brought their host out to Staff. 
And when the king came upon the Staff- 
mere he made a halt ; and there he heard 
of a truth that the bonders fared with an host 
against him, and that he would have battle speedily. 
Then the king took the muster of his host, and the 
tale of the men was scored, and there were found 
to be in the host nine hundred heathen men. So 
when the king knew this he bade them let themselves 
be christened, saying that he will not have heathen 
men in his battle. "We will not," said he, "trust 
in the multitudes. In God will we trust, for by his 
might and mercy shall we gain the victory ; but I 
will not blend heathen folk up with my men." 

CCXV The story of Olaf the Holy. 399 

But when the heathen heard this, they took 
counsel together, and at last four hundred took 
christening, but five hundred gainsaid Christ's 
law, and that host turned back to their own coun- 
try. Then stepped forward the brethren Gowk- 
Thorir and Afrafasti with their band, and offered 
the king their aid once more. He asked if they had 
already taken christening, and Gowk-Thorir said it 
was not so. The king bade them take christening 
and the true faith, or go their ways otherwise. 
So then they turned away and had a talk between 
them, and took counsel together what rede they 
should take up. Then spake Afrafasti : " So is it 
to be said of my mind, that I will not turn back. 
I will fare to the battle, and give my aid to one 
side or other ; but to me it makes no odds on 
which side I be." Then said Gowk-Thorir : " If I 
shall fare to the battle, then will I give aid to 
the king, for he stands in the greatest need of 
help ; but if I am to trow in some god or other, 
why should it be worse to me to trow in White- 
Christ than in any other god ? Now it is my 
counsel that we should let us be christened, if the 
king deemeth that a great matter, and let us after- 
wards go into the battle with him." This they all 
yeasaid, and go to the king to tell him that they 
are willing to take christening. So they were 
christened of the clerks and confirmed thereafter, 
and the king took them into the laws of his body- 
guard, and said they should be under his banner in 
the battle. 

400 The Saga Library. CCXVI 


NOW King Olaf had heard it for sure that 
but a little while it was to this, that he 
would have battle with the bonders. 
And when he had taken muster of his host, and 
scored the tale thereof, he found he had more than 
thirty hundreds of men, which was then deemed to 
be a mickle host on one field. 

Then the king spoke to the host, saying : " We 
have a great host and a brave company ; and now 
I will tell men what array I will have in our host. 
I shall let fare my banner forth in the midmost of 
the host, and therewith shall follow my Bodyguard 
and Guests, and therewithal that band which came 
to us from the Uplands, and, moreover, that com- 
pany which came to us here in Thrandheim. But on 
the right hand of my banner shall be Day Ring- 
son with all that host which he brought to our aid, 
and he shall have another banner. But on the 
left of mine array shall be the band which the 
Swede-king gave us, and all the company that 
came to us in Sweden, and they shall have the 
third banner. My will is that men shall be arrayed 
in companies, and that kinsmen and acquaintance 
flock together, for thus each will heed the other 
best, and each ken the other. We shall mark all 
our host, and make a war-token on our helms and 
shields, and draw thereon in white the holy cross. 
And if we come into battle then shall we all have 
one and the same word-cry : ' Forth, forth, Christ's- 
rnen, Grossmen, King's-men ! ' We shall have 

CCXVII TJte story of Olaf the Holy. 401 

thinner ranks if we be the fewer folk, for I will not 
that they ring us round with their host. Now let 
men array them into companies, and sithence the 
companies shall be drawn up in battles, and let then 
every man wot his stead, and give heed to which 
side he stand of the banner whereunder he is 
arrayed. Now we shall keep up our battle-array, 
and let men have all weapons day and night until 
we know where the meeting shall be betwixt us 
and the bonders." 

Sithence, when the king had thus spoken, they 
arrayed their host and set it out even according as 
the king had ordered. 


AFTER this the king had a meeting with 
the captains of companies. By then were 
come back the men whom the king had 
sent into the countrysides to crave help of the 
bonders. They had these tidings to tell from the 
peopled parts where they fared, that far and wide 
all was waste of wight men, and all that folk had 
fared into the gathering of the bonders ; but where 
they came upon men, but few would follow them, 
and the most answered that they sat at home for 
this cause, that they would follow neither side ; 
they had no will to fight against the king, or 
against their own kinsmen ; they had got but a 
scanty company. Then the king asked his men 
for rede, what seemed likeliest to take up. Finn 
Arnison answered the king's speech and said : " I 

IV. D D 

402 The Saga Library. CCXVII 

will tell thee," says he, " what would be done, if I 
should rule : we should fare the warshield over all 
the peopled parts, rob all wealth and burn down 
the abodes so throughly that never a cot should be 
left standing, and thus pay the bonders for their 
betrayal of their lord. Methinks many a one 
would get loose from the flock, if he saw home to 
his house, and the reek and flame thereof, and 
wotted unclearly what tidings were to tell of his 
bairns and women and old folk, their fathers, 
mothers, and other kindred. And this I ween," 
says he, " that if some of them make up their mind 
to break away from the gathering, then their ranks 
will speedily thin. Thereto are bonders given, that 
such rede as is newest, that is the dearest to them," 
But when Finn had done his speech, men gave 
it a good cheer ; for to many it liked well to turn 
to wealth-lifting, and all deemed the bonders well 
worthy of scathe, and thought what Finn said 
was like enough to happen, that many of the 
bonders would be loose from the gathering. Then 
Thormod the Coalbrow-skald sang this stave : 

Burn we all lands we find there 
That inward be of In-isle ; 
The host would ward with war-sword 
Against the king men's homesteads ; 
The yew's grief should be quickened 
In thorn-wood, might I wield it. 
All men of Upper Thrandheim 
Cold coals should have their houses. 

But when King Olaf heard the eagerness of the 
folk, he craved hearing, and said : " Forsooth the 
bonders are full worthy of being dealt with, even 

CCXVII The story of Olaf the Holy. 403 

as ye will ; they know this withal, that I have 
done as much as burning them in their abodes, 
and have laid upon them other heavy punishments. 
I have done this, that I have burnt them within, 
when they had gone away from their faith, and 
taken up blood-offerings, and would not yield to 
my words ; but then had we God's right to awreak ; 
whereas now is this treason much less of worth, 
though they hold not their troth to me ; though for 
sooth it is, that it will not be deemed beseeming to 
those who will be men of mandom. Yet I am here 
somewhat more free to grant them some release, 
when they misdo against me, than then, when they 
did hatefully against God. Therefore it is my will 
that men go forth peacefully, and do no deeds of war- 
work. I will fare first to meet the bonders, and if 
we make peace, it is well. But if they hold battle 
against us, then there will be two ways before us : if 
we fall in the fight, it will be well done not to fare 
thither with wealth robbed ; but if we gain the 
victory, then will ye be the heirs of those who are 
now fighting against us ; for some of them will fall 
in the fight, and some will flee, and both alike 
will have forfeited all their havings. Then it is 
good to go into big households and stately manors, 
but to no man is there any avail in what is burnt 
down. Likewise of liftings, the more part by far 
fares to spilling, than what is turned to any use. 
So now let us go scatter-meal down along the 
dwellings, and have with us all men meet for fight 
which we may find. Withal men shall hew beasts, 
or take other victual, according as men need for 
their feeding ; but let no other ill deeds be done. 

404 The Saga Library. CCXVIII 

Yet I deem it well that the spies of the bonders 
be slain if ye take them. Day and his company 
shall fare down along the dale on the north side ; 
but I shall follow the highway, and at night we 
shall meet, and let us all have one night-lair." 


SO it is said, that when King Olaf arrayed 
his host in battle-array, he told off men for 
a shield-burg, which should hold itself before 
him in the battle, and thereto he chose out such 
men as were the starkest and keenest. Then the 
king called to him his skalds, and bade them go 
into the shield-burg. Said he : " Ye shall be here, 
and see the tidings which here shall be done ; then 
there will be no need for others to tell you the 
tale, for ye shall be the tellers thereof, and sing of 
it thereafter." 

Then were there Thormod Coalbrow-skald and 
Gizur Goldbrow, the fosterfather of Templegarth- 
Ref; and the third was Thorfin Mouth. Then 
said Thormod to Gizur: "Stand we nought so 
thronged, bedfellow, but that Sigvat may get to 
his place, when he comes ; he will wish to stand in 
front of the king, and with nought else shall the 
king be well-liking." 

The king heard that and answered : "No need 
to jeer at Sigvat for not being here. Oft has he 
followed me well ; now will he pray for us, and we 
shall yet stand in right sore need thereof." 

Thormod says : "It may be, king, that now 

CCXVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 405 

thou standest most of all in need of prayers, but 
thin would it be about the banner-staff, if all thy 
courtmen were now on the Rome-road ; and indeed 
it was true, that we would be talking then how 
that no one might get place because of Sigvat, 
howsoever one might wish to speak to thee." 

Then the skalds spake together between them- 
selves, saying that it would fall well to frame some 
staves of upheartening concerning the tidings which 
would speedily be borne on their hands. Then 
sang Gizur : 

For throng at the Thing of war-board 
Busk we ! let folk that word hear. 
But never shall thane's daughter 
Hear tell of me grown unglad, 
Though the deft war-groves tell us 
Hope is of the wife of Hedin. 
Be we to the king all helpful 
East in the gale of Ali. 

Then sang Thorfin Mouth a stave : 

Toward the mickle rain it darkeneth 
Of the hard storm of war-shield. 
The host of the Verdalers 
With the keen king will battle. 
Ward we AU-wielder bounteous, 
And merry feed the blood-mew ! 
In Thund's storm fell we Thranders ! 
To that same do we egg on. 

Then sang Thormod : 

Shaft-thrower ! on it gathers 
To the mickle gale of Ali ; 
And now the sword-age waxeth ; 
Nought blenching should men fumble ; 

4o6 The Saga Library, CCXIX 

Busk we for onset, ganging 
To the mote of spears with Olaf j 
But sure the fight-brisk warrior 
Should shun the word of sluggard. 

These songs men learnt then and there. 


THEN the king arrayed his journey and 
sought down along the dale ; and he took 
night-harbour, and there came together 
all his host ; and they lay nightlong out under their 
shields. But forthwith when it dawned of day, the 
king arrayed the host ; and when they were ready 
thereto, they held still on their way down along 
the dale. Then came to the king very many 
bonders, and the more part went into his host; 
and they all knew how to tell him one tale, that the 
landed-men had drawn together an hostunfightable, 
and meant to go and give battle to the king. Then 
the king took many marks of silver, and gave 
them into the hand of a bonder, and said withal : 
" This money shalt thou guard and share it here- 
after ; allot some to churches, give some to clerks, 
some to almsfolk, and give it for the life and 
soul of the men who shall fall in battle fighting 
against us." 

The bonder answers : " Shall this money be 
given for the soul-booting of thy men, king ? " 

Answered the king : " This money shall be 
given for the souls of the men who are in battle 
with the bonders, and who shall fall before the 

CCXX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 407 

weapons of our men. But those who follow us in 
the fight, and who fall in it, shall all be saved 
together, they and I." 


THE night that King Olaf lay among his 
host as is aforesaid, he waked long, and 
prayed to God for himself and his host, 
and slept but little. Against dawn there fell 
heaviness upon him, and when he awoke, up ran 
the day. The king deemed it somewhat early to 
rouse the host. Then he asked where was Thor- 
mod the Skald. He was anigh there, and gave 
answer, and asked what the king would with him. 
The king said : " Tell us some song." Thormod 
sat up and sang out right high, so that it was 
heard throughout all the host. He sang Biarklay 
the Ancient ; whereof this is the beginning : 

Day is come up again, 
Din the cock's feathers ; 
Time, sons of trouble, 
The toil to be winning. 
Wake aye, and wake aye, 
Heads of the friend-folk ! 
All ye of the foremost 
Fellows of Adils ! 

High, the hard-gripping, 
Hrolf of the shooting. 
Kin-worthy men 
Who will not of fleeing. 
To wine nought I wake you, 
Nor whispers of women ; 
But up do I wake you 
To Hilda's hard play. 

4o8 The Saga Library, CCXX 

Then awoke the host. And when the lay was 
done, men thanked him for it, and set mickle store 
by it, and deemed it was well chosen, and called 
the lay " Housecarles' - whetting." The king 
thanked him for his glee, and sithence the king 
took a gold ring weighing half a mark and gave it 
to Thormod. Thormod thanked the king for his 
gift, and said : " A good king have we, but it is a 
hard matter now to see through, how long-lived 
the king may be ; and it is my boon, king, that 
thou let us part nevermore, alive or dead." 

The king answered : " All we shall fare to- 
gether, while I rule over it, if ye choose not to 
part from me." 

Thormod said : " This I look for, king, whether 
the peace be better or worser, that I shall be 
standing near to you, while I have the choice, 
whatever we may hear of Sigvat, where he may 
be faring with Goldenhilt." Then sang Thormod : 

Fight-bold all-wielder ! ever 
About thy knee I turn me. 
Till other skalds thou get thee. 
When hopest thou for these then ? 
Though we give the greedy raven 
Corpse meat, off shall we get us, 
Or else here shall be lying. 
Soothly is this unfailing, 
O reddener of the wave-steeds. 

CCXXI The story of Olaf the Holy. 409 


KING OLAF brought the army down 
along the valley ; and Day still fared with 
his host another way. The king letted 
not his faring until he came down to Sticklestead. 
Then they saw the host of the bonders, and that 
folk went much scatter-meal, and was so mickle a 
multitude, that along every path were folk drifting 
in, and wide about it was, that big flocks fared to- 
gether. They saw where a company of men came 
on down from Verdale, who had been out a-spying, 
and fared nigh to where was the host of the king, 
and found nought, before there was so short a space 
between them both, that men might know each other. 
And there was Ram of Vigg with thirty men. 

Then the king ordered the Guests to fare against 
Ram and take his life, and ready enough were 
men for that work. 

Then spoke the king to the Icelanders : " So is 
it told me, that it is a custom in Iceland that 
bonders be bound in harvest-time to give their 
house-carles a slaughter-wether. Lo, there I will 
give you a ram for the slaughter." 

The Icelanders were easily egged on to this 
deed, and fared forthwith on Ram with other 
men, and he was slain and all the company that 
followed him. 

The king took a stand and stayed his host, when 
he came to Sticklestead ; and the king bade men 
get off their horses and make ready there, and 
men did as bade the king. 

410 The Saga Library. CCXXII 

Then the host was cast into battle-array, and 
the banners were set up. Day was not yet come 
with his host, so that wing of the battle was lack- 
ing. Then spake the king that the Uplanders 
should go forth and take up the banner ; " but I 
deem it rede," says the king, " that Harald my 
brother be not in the fight, for he is but a child of 

Harald answers : " I shall surely be in the fight; 
but if I am so unstrong that I may not wield the 
sword, then can I good rede thereto, to wit, that 
my hand be bound to the grip thereof. No man 
shall be of better will than I to be unprofitable to 
those bonders ; and I shall follow mine own fellow- 
ship." So men say, that Harald sang this song 
therewith : 

That wing shall I dare warding 
Wherein to stand my lot is. 
In wrath the shield we redden. 
'Tis a thing that woman loveth. 
The war-blithe youngling warrior 
Before spears nowise fareth 
To heel, where strokes are striking. 
To the murder-mote men hasten. 

Harald had his will and was in the battle. 


A MAN is named Thorgils, son of Halma, 
and he was the bonder who then dwelt at 
Sticklestead, and was the father of Grim 
the Good. Thorgils offered the king his help, and 

CCXXIII The story of Olaf the Holy, 411 

to be in the battle with him. The king bade him 
have thanks for his offer : " But I will, bonder, 
that thou be not in the battle. Grant us rather 
that other help, to save our men after the fight, 
such as be wounded ; and lay out the bodies of 
the others, who fall in the fray. Likewise, should 
such hap be, bonder, that I fall in this battle, 
then do what service may be needful to my body, 
if it be not forbidden thee." 

And Thorgils avowed to the king to do his 


NOW when King Olaf had arrayed his 
host, he spake to them, and said that 
men should harden their hearts, and go 
forth boldly, if a battle befall. Says he : " We 
have an host good and great, and although the 
bonders have an host somewhat more, yet will 
fate rule the victory. I have to make known unto 
you that I shall not flee from this battle ; I shall 
either overcome the bonders, or shall fall here 
else. And this I pray, that that lot come up which 
God sees will be for me the gainfullest. We shall 
trust in this, that we have a more rightful cause to 
plead than the bonders ; and this furthermore, that 
God will make free our own to us after this battle, or 
else will give us a reward mickle more for the loss 
that we here get, than we ourselves know how to 
pray for. But if it be my lot to have aught to say 
after the battle, then shall I reward each one of 

412 The Saga Library. CCXXIV 

you according to his work's-worth, and according 
to the way whereas each goeth forth in the battle ; 
for then, if we gain the victory, there will be enough 
to share between you, both of lands and chattels, 
which are now in the hands of my foemen. Let us 
make the hardest of onslaughts at first ; for swiftly 
then will be a shifting, though odds be mickle, and 
we have to hope for victory from speedy dealings ; 
whereas that will fall heavy on us, if we have to 
fight unto weariness, so that men thereof become 
unfightworthy. For we shall have less fresh folk 
than they, to go forth in turn, while some shield 
themselves and rest. But if we make the brunt 
so hard that they turn aback who are foremost, 
then will each fall across the other, and their mis- 
hap will be the greater, the more they are to- 

And when the king left off speaking men gave 
a great cheer to his speaking, and each egged on 
the other. 


THORD, the son of Foli, bore the standard 
of King Olaf. So says Sigvat the Skald 
in that death-song which he wrought on 
King Olaf, and fashioned after the Uprising 
story : 

Heard I that Thord with Olaf 
Hardened the fight begun there 
With sword ; then throve the onset; 
Good hearts there fared together. 

CCXXVI The story of Olaf the Holy. 413 

The bold-heart Ogmund's brother 
Toiled sorely, high upbearing 
The fair-gilt staff before him, 
The fight-worn king of Ringfolk. 



ING OLAF was so arrayed, that he had 
a helm all-gilded on his head ; but a white 

shield, and thereon done in gold the 

Holy Cross ; in one hand he had that spear which 
now standeth beside the altar in Christ's Church. 
He was girt with that sword which was called 
Hneitir, the keenest of swords, the grip wrapped 
around with gold. He had on a ring-byrny. 
Hereof telleth Sigvat the Skald : 

Olaf the Thick won felling 

Of folk ; the lord fight-daring 

Went forth all in his byrny 

To fetch a victory mighty. 

But the Swedes, who came from the eastland 

With the bounteous lord, rushed onward 

Into the bright blood-eddies. 

There then the battle wax^d ; 

Much things I tell all naked. 



I J nigh as yet. Then said the king that the 
whole host should sit down and rest them. And 
King Olaf himself sat him down, and all his host, 

UT when King Olaf had done arraying his 
host, then were the bonders come nowhere 

414 The Saga Library. CCXXVI 

and they sat at their ease. He leaned back and 
laid his head on the knee of Finn Arnison. Then 
sleep ran over him, and that was for a while. 

Then they saw the heap of the bonders, how 
their host sought on to meet them, and had set up 
its banners ; and the greatest multitude of men 
was that. Then Finn roused the king, and told 
him the bonders were making for them. And 
when the king awoke, he said : " Why didst thou 
wake me, Finn, nor leave me to have my dream 
out ? " 

Finn answered : " Thou wouldst not be dream- 
ing such, as that it should not be more due for thee 
to wake, and be ready for the host that fareth upon 
us. Or dost thou not see now whereto the bonder- 
crowd hath gotten ? " 

The king answers : " They are not so near yet, 
as that it were not better that I had slept." 

Then said Finn: ''What didst thou dream, 
king, whereof thou deemest it so mickle amiss, 
that thou shouldst not wake up of thyself ? " 

Then the king told his dream ; he thought he 
saw a high ladder, and that he walked up the same, 
up aloft so long, that he deemed he saw the 
heavens open, and even thither the ladder reached : 
" And I was even then come to the topmost rung, 
when thou didst call me." 

Finn answers : " To me nought seemeth the 
dream so good as thou deemest it ; for I am 
minded to think that this forebodeth thee for fey, 
if that which came before thee were aught else 
than mere dream-fooling." 

CCXXVII TheSforyofOlaf the Holy. 415 


IT befell again, when King Olaf was come to 
Sticklestead, that a certain man came to him. 
But this was nought wondrous, in so far that 
many men came to the king out of the country- 
sides there, but it was deemed for new tidings, 
whereas this man was unlike unto other men of 
them who had come to the king as then. He was 
a man so high, that none of the others were more 
than up to the shoulder of him ; he was a very 
goodly man to look upon, and of fair hair. He was 
well weaponed, and had a full fair helm and a ring- 
byrny, and a red shield, and was girt with a fair- 
wrought sword ; he had in hand a gold-inlaid 
great spear, the shaft whereof was so thick that a 
good handful it was. This man went before the 
king and greeted him, and asked if he would have 
help of him. The king asked what was his name 
and kindred, and whence of lands. 

He answers : " I have kindred in lamtland and 
Helsingland ; I am called Arnliot Gellini ; and 
that most I can to tell thee, that I gave some 
furtherance to those men of thine whom thou 
sentest to lamtland to crave scat there ; and 
I handed over to them a silver dish which I sent 
thee for a token that I was willing to be thy friend." 

Then asked the king if Arnliot were a man chris- 
tened or not. But he said this of his troth, that he 
trowed in his might and main. *' And that belief 
has served me full well hitherto ; but now I 
am minded rather to trow in thee, O king." 

4i6 The Saga Library. CCXXVIII 

The king answered : "If thou wilt trow in me, 
then thou shalt believe in what I teach thee. 
Thou shalt believe this, that Jesus Christ has 
created heaven and earth and all men, and that to 
him shall fare after death all those who are good, 
and who believe aright." 

Arnliot answered : "I have heard tell of the 
White-Christ, but I am not well learned in his 
doings, nor where he ruleth ; so I will now believe 
all that thou hast to tell me, and I will leave all my 
matter in thine hand." 

Then Arnliot was christened, and the king 
taught him as much of the faith as he deemed was 
most needful, and arrayed him to the vanward 
battle-array, and before his own banner. There, 
too, were Gowk-Thorir and Afrafasti and their 


NOW is to be told the tale that was dropped 
afore, that landed-men and bonders had 
drawn together an host, not to be dealt 
with in battle, so soon as they heard that the 
king had fared from the east from Garthrealm, and 
was come to Sweden ; and when they heard that 
he was come from the east to lamtland, and that 
he was about to fare from the east over the Keel 
to Verdale, they brought the host into Thrandheim, 
and there gathered together to them all the folk, 
thane and thrall, and so fared up to Verdale, and 
had there so great a gathering, that no man who 

CCXXIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 417 

was there had ever seen so great an host gathered 
in Norway. 

But there it was, as always will be in so big an 
host, that the company was all diverse ; there was 
a mickle of landed-men, and a great crowd of 
mighty bonders, but there was also the whole heap 
of villeins and workmen, and they made the main 
host which had been gathered together in Thrand- 
heim ; but that host was most fierce in foeship 
against the king. 


KING KNUT the Rich had laid under 
him all the land of Norway, as is afore 
writ, and therewithal had set Earl Hakon 
up for a ruler there. He gave the earl a court 
bishop, named Sigurd, a Dane by kindred, who 
had been with King Knut for a long time. That 
bishop was a man masterful, and pompous ^ of 
speech ; he gave King Knut all the word-propping 
he might, and was the most unfriend of King 
Olaf. That same bishop was with this host, and 
oft would speak to the bonder-folk, and egged on 
mickle the uprising against King Olaf. 

IV. E E 

41 8 The Saga Library. CCXXX 


NOW Bishop Sigurd spoke at a certain 
House-Thing whenaswasamicklethrong. 
And thus he took up the word : " Here 
is now come together a great multitude of folk, so 
that in this poor land might by no chance ever be 
seen a greater host of inlanders. Now this strength 
of men should stand you well in stead, for now is 
need enough thereto, if this Olaf is yet minded not 
to lay by his harrying of you. When he was yet but 
a youth he became wont to rob men, and to slay, 
and hereto fared he wide over lands ; and at last 
turned hither toward this country, and began his 
business by becoming the greatest unfriend of 
those who were the best men and the mightiest, 
(such as is King Knut, whom all are bound to serve 
to their best ;) and he set himself down in his scat- 
land. The same wise he dealt too with Olaf, the 
Swede-king ; and the earls, Svein and Hakon, he 
drave away from the lands of their birthright ; 
and yet to his own kin he was grimmest of all, in 
that he drave away all the kings of the Uplands ; yet 
that was well enough in some way, for they had 
already broken their faith and oaths to King 
Knut, and backed this Olaf up in what folly soever 
he took up. Now meetly sundered their friend- 
ship ; he maimed them, and took to himself their 
dominion, and thus voided the land of all men of 
dignity. But thereafter ye must be wotting how 
he hath dealt with landed-men ; the most renowned 
of them are slain, and many have become land- 

CC X X X TJie Story of Olaf the Holy. 4 1 9 

waifs before him. He hath also fared wide over 
this land with robber flocks, burnt the country- 
sides, and slain and robbed the people ; or which 
of the men of might will be here, who hath not 
sore wrones to avenofe on him ? Now he fareth 
with an outland host, of which the most part are 
woodland-men and waylayers, or robbers of other 
sort. Deem ye that he will be soft with you, now 
that he fares with this rout of evil-doers, seeing 
what deeds of ravage he did when even all who 
followed him letted him ? I call that your rede, 
that ye mind you now of the words of King Knut, 
whereas he counselled you, if Olaf should make 
his way to the land again, how ye should hold 
your freedom even as King Knut hath behight it 
you. He bade you withstand and drive off your 
hands such lawless rabble. And this is now to 
hand, to go meet them, and to smite down this 
evil folk to the eagle and the wolf, and let each 
one lie whereas he is hewn ; unless ye will it 
rather, to drae their carcases into holt and warren. 
But let no man be bold enough to bring them to 
churches, for all these be but vikings and evil- 
doers." And when he had made an end of this 
talk, men gave it a mickle cheer, and they all said 
yea to doing as he bade. 

420 The Saga Library. CCXXXI 


THE landed-men who were come there 
together had their meeting, and talk and 
outspeaking, and then ordered the array of 
the battles, and who should be captain over the 
host. Then said Kalf, the son of Arni, that Harek 
of Thiotta was best fitted to become the chief of 
this army : " For he is come of the kin of Harald 
Hairfair; and the king has against him a right 
heavy grudge for the slaying of Grankel, and he 
will sit under the most of evil dealings, if Olaf 
should once more come to his might ; moreover, 
Harek is a man much proven in battles, and a 
man all eager for renown." 

Harek answers that those men were better fitted 
for this, who then were in the nimblest of their 
age : " But I am now," says he, " an old man and a 
tottering, and nowise well meet for battle ; withal, 
there is kinship betwixt King Olaf and me ; and, of 
howsoever little worth he counts that to me, yet it 
beseems me nowise to thrust me forth in this un- 
peace against him more than any other man in our 
flock. But thou, Thorir, art well fitted to be the 
head-man in holding battle against King Olaf, 
and grievance enough hast thou against him : thou 
hast to avenge on him loss of thy kinsmen, and 
this, moreover, that he drave thee into outlawry 
from all thy goods, and thou hast behight King 
Knut, and thy kinsmen withal, that thou wouldst 
avenge Asbiorn ; or deemest thou that a better 
chance of Olaf will be given thee, than that which 

CCXXXII The story of Olaf the Holy . 421 

now is, for avenging thee of all that mighty 
shame ? " 

Thorir answered his speech : " I trust myself 
nought to raise up banner against King Olaf, or to 
become chief over this host. Here have the 
Thrandheim folk the most throng of men ; and I 
know their pride, that they will not obey me or 
any other man of Halogaland. But there is no 
need to call to my mind the wrongs whereof I 
have to pay Olaf ; I mind me of that loss of men, 
how that Olaf has cut off from life four men, all of 
them noble of honours and kin, Asbiorn, my 
brother's son, Thorir and Griotgard, my sister's 
sons, and their father, Olvir, and I am in duty 
bound to avenge each one of them. Now, this is 
to tell of me, that I have chosen out eleven men of 
my house-carles, they who are briskest, and I am 
minded to think that we shall not haggle with 
other men as to dealing in blows with King Olaf, 
if we shall eet us the chance thereof." 


THEN Kalf Arnison took up the word : 
" This need we in the work which we have 
taken up, not to make it a fool's errand now 
that the host is gathered together. We shall need 
something else, if we are to give battle to King Olaf, 
than that each one back out of undertaking the 
trouble. For we maybe fast in this mind, that though 
King Olaf have no great host beside that which 
we have, yet there is the leader dauntless, and all 

422 The Saga Library. CCXXXII 

his host will be trusty for fight and following. 
But if we now be wavering at all, who should be 
most chiefly the leaders of our host ; and if we 
will not put the host in heart, nor ^g^ it on, nor 
lead it to the onset, then forthwith in a many of 
them that be faltering, the heart will fail them, and 
then each one will be looking to himself. Now 
albeit a mickle host is here come together, we 
shall none the less come into such a trial, when we 
meet King Olaf with his host, that worsting shall 
be certain for us, unless we, the captains, be our- 
selves keen-hearted, and the whole throng fall on 
with one accord. But if this come not about, then 
would it be better for us not to risk battle ; and 
then will our choice be deemed easy to see, that 
we risk the mercy of Olaf, howsoever hard he was 
then thought, when there were less guilts against 
us than he will now deem there be. And yet I 
know that such men are arrayed in his host, that I 
shall have the chance of my life if I will seek for 
it. Now if ye will, as I will, then shalt thou, 
Thorir, my brother-in-law, and thou, Harek, go 
under the banner which we shall all upraise and 
follow after. Be we all hard-set and keen about 
this rede we have taken up, and lead we on the 
host of bonders in such wise that they find no 
flutter of fear in us ; and that will stir up the folk, 
if we go glad to the arraying of the host and the 
egging-on of it." 

And when Kalf had done giving forth his 
errand, they all with one consent turned them to 
his rede, saying they would have all things even 
as Kalf should deem best for them. So they all 

CCXXXIV TheStoryofOlaftheHoly. 423 

willed that Kalf should be captain of the host, and 
should order each one into what company he 


KALF set up his banner and arrayed 
thereunder his house-carles, and there- 
with Harek of Thiotta and his folk. 
Thorir Hound with his following was in the 
onward breast of the array before the banners. 
And there, on either side of Thorir, was a picked 
company of the bonders, of all that was briskest 
and best-weaponed. That array was made both 
long and thick, and in that line were Thrand- 
heimers and Halogalanders. But on the right- 
hand side to this array there was set another such, 
and on the left hand from the main battle was the 
battle of the men of Rogaland, Hordland, Sogn, and 
the Firths, and they had there the third banner. 


THERE was a man named Thorstein Ship- 
wright; he was a chapman and a great 
smith, and a man mickle and strong, ex- 
ceeding eager-hearted in all things, and a mickle 
slayer. He had fallen into the king's enmity, and 
the king had taken from him a cheaping-ship, a 
new and big one, which Thorstein had made. That 
was for Thorstein's brawlings and for a thane's 

424 The Saga Library. CCXXXV 

weregild which the king had against him. Thor- 
stein was there in the host ; and he went forth 
before the Hne of war, to where stood Thorir 
Hound, and spoke thus : " Here will I be in this 
company, Thorir, with thee ; whereas I am minded, 
that if we two, Olaf and I, meet, to be the first to 
bear weapon on him, if I may be standing so nigh 
him ; so that I may pay him for the taking of the 
ship, when he robbed me of that craft which is the 
one only best that is brooked in cheaping-fare." 
So Thorir and his folk took Thorstein, and he went 
into their fellowship. 


NOW when the bonders had been set in 
battle-array, the landed-men gave out the 
word, and bade the folk give heed to 
their places, whereas each one was marshalled, or 
under what banner they were each to be, or how 
nigh to the banner he was set, and which way 
from it. They bade the men be watchful and 
swift to fall into line, when the horns should sing out, 
and the war-blast come up, and then to go forth 
in array ; for they had still a much long way to 
flit the host onward, and it was to be looked for, 
that the lines should be broken on the march. 

Then they egged on the host. Kalf said that 
all men, who had grief and hatred whereof to pay 
King Olaf, should go forth under those banners 
which should fare against the banner of King 
Olaf, and that they should be mindful then of the 

CCXXXVI The story of Olaf the Holy. 425 

wrong-doing he had dealt them ; and he says that 
they would never hit upon a better chance for 
avenofine of their sorrow, and to free themselves 
from that bondage and thraldom under which he 
had laid them. "He is now," says Kalf, " a 
blencher who fighteth not at his boldest, for no- 
wise sackless are they whom ye fight against, 
neither will they spare you if they get the chance." 
To his speech there was made right mickle cheer. 
And therewithal there was a mighty great shout 
and egging-on throughout the whole host. 


THEN the bonders flitted their host on to 
Sticklestead, whereas King Olaf was be- 
fore them with his host. At the head of 
the host Kalf and Harek fared onward with the 
banner. But when they met, the onset befell not 
right speedily, for the bonders tarried the onfall, 
whereas not all their host had come forth any- 
where nigh evenly ; so they abode that folk 
which lagged behind. Thorir Hound had fared 
last with his company, for he was to watch that 
the host should not slink back, when the war- 
whoop came up and the foemen's folk were seen. 
So Kalf and his waited for Thorir. 

The bonders had this watchword for egging on 
their host to battle : " Forth, forth, Bonder-men ! " 

King Olaf made no onfall because he waited 
for Day and the folk which followed him. But 
now the king and his saw where Day's host was 

426 TIte Saga Library. CCXXXVII 

coming. So it is said, that the bonders had an host 
nothinof less than an hundred hundreds of men. 
But thus sayeth Sigvat : 

Wild unto me the woe is 
That the king had little gathering 
From eastward, e'en the lord king. 
Who grasped the grip gold-twined. 
I heard that there the bonders 
By the half were more than he was. 
So gat they gain ; that somewhat 
Betrayed the battles' urger. 


NOW when either host stood face to face 
and men knew each other, the king 
said : " Why art thou there, Kalf ; 
whereas we parted friends south in Mere ? It 
beseems thee but ill to be fighting against us, or 
to shoot death-shot into our host, whereas here be 
thy four brethren ? " 

Kalf answers : " Much fareth otherwise now, 
king, than were best beseeming. In such wise 
didst thou part from us, that need was to make 
peace with them who were left behind ; and now 
must each be whereas he is set. But we two 
should yet make peace together, if I might rule." 

Then said Finn : " That is a mark of Kalf, that 
if he speaketh well, he is minded to do ill." 

The king said : " Maybe, Kalf, that thou wiliest 
peace now ; but meseemeth that nought peacefully 
now ye bonders are doing." Then answereth 
Thorgeir of Kviststead : " Ye shall now have 

CCXXXVIII story of Olaf the Holy. 427 

such peace as many a man hath had afore of you, 
and now shall ye pay therefor." 

Answered the king : " Thou needest not be so 
eager for our meeting — for nowise shall victory 
over us be fated for thee to-day — whereas I have 
raised thee up to might from a little man." 


THEREWITH came Thorir Hound with 
his company, and went forth before the 
banner, and cried out : " Forth, forth. 
Bonder-men ! " And the bonder-men let out the 
war-whoop and shot both arrows and spears. 
And then the king's men set up the war-whoop ; 
and when that was over, they egged each other on 
as they had been taught to do before, and said : 
" Forth, forth, Christ's men, Cross-men, King's 
men ! " And when the bonders heard that, even 
they who stood out in the wing, they cried the 
same cry as they heard these call out. And when 
the others of the bonder-host heard this, they 
thought that these last were the king's men, and 
bore weapons upon them, so that they fought be- 
tween themselves, and many men fell before they 
were ware how it was. 

Fair was the weather, and the sun shone in the 
clear heaven. But when the battle began, the heaven 
was besmitten by redness, and the sun withal ; and 
before it cleared off, it grew mirk as night. 

Now King Olaf had arrayed his folk whereas 

428 The Saga Library, CCXXXVIII 

was a certain bent, and they plunged adown upon 
the battle of the bonders, and gave them so hard 
an onfall that the line of the bonders bent before 
them, so that there stood the breast of the king's 
array, whereas they had had their stand erewhile, 
who were hindmost in the host of the bonders; 
and at this while much of the bonder-host was 
ready to flee ; but the landed-men and their house- 
carles stood fast, and a right hard brunt then 
befell. So says Sigvat : 

Wide must the field with feet din ; 
To men was banned the peace-tide. 
The byrny-clad betook them 
Into hot brunt of battle ; 
When they that ply the bow-draught, 
Bright-helmed rushed down all early, 
And mickle was the steel-storm 
At Sticklestead befallen. 

The landed-men egged on their host and thrust 
on hard to onset ; thereof Sigvat telleth : 

Now fared forth the banners 
In the mid host of the Thrand-men. 
There nimble men were meeting ; 
That work the bonders rued them. 

Then set on the bonder-host from all sides. 
They hewed who stood the foremost ; but they, 
who there were next, thrust with spears ; but all 
those, who were further back, shot spears, or 
arrows, or hurled stones, or hand-axes, or shaft- 
flints. And soon there befell a battle man- 
scathing, and much folk fell on either side. 

In the first brunt fell Arnliot Gellini, Gowk- 

CCXXXVIII story of Olaf the Holy. 429 

Thorir, and Afrafasti, and all their company, but 
each had slain his man first, or two, or some 

Then grew thin the array before the king's 
banner. So the king bade Thord bear forth the 
banner, but he himself followed the banner, and 
that company withal which he had chosen to be 
anigh him in the battle. And those men were 
the aldermost of daring and the best arrayed in his 
company. Thereof telleth Sigvat : 

I heard that my Lord for the most part 
Went nighest his own banner ; 
The staff before the king rushed, . 
Enough the stour was toward. 

When King Olaf went forth out of the shield- 
burg, and into the vanward of his battle, and the 
bonders might look into the face of him, then they 
were filled with dread and their hands dropped. 
This Sigvat telleth : 

For throwers of flame of spear-pond 
'Twas given to look, meseemeth, 
Into the keen-set eyen 
Of Olaf brisk in battle. 
The Hersir's Lord full awful 
Was deemed ; the Thrandish warfolk 
They durst not look with eyen 
Into his eyes worm-gleaming. 

Then was a right hard battle, and the king 
went himself fast forth into the brunt of handy- 
strokes. So says Sigvat : 

The men's host, shield in hand there, 
Reddened the swords all gory 

430 The Saga Library. CCXXXIX 

In warriors' blood, where fell they 
On the dear king of the people. 
And the king, in iron-play eager. 
Let the red-brown sword be seeking 
The meadows of the hair-path 
Of the dwellers of Up-Thrandheim. 


THEN fought King Olaf all dauntlessly. 
He hewed on Thorgeir of Kviststead, a 
landed-man, who is afore-named, athwart 
the face, and sheared asunder the nose-guard of 
the helm of him, and clave the head below the 
eyes, so that it nearly flew off. And when he fell, 
the king said : " Yea ! is that true, which I said 
thee, Thorgeir, that thou wouldst have no victory 
in our dealings ? " 

In this brunt Thord smote down the banner- 
staff so hard, that the staff stood upright of 
itself; for then had Thord got his bane-wound, 
and there he fell under the banner. Therewith 
fell also Thorfin Mouth, and Gizur Goldbrow ; 
but on him had two men set, and one he slew and 
the other he hurt, or ever he fell himself. So saith 
Templegarth-Ref : 

The ash-tree of the battle, 

The bold one in the steel-rain, 

With two brisk thanes had war-din. 

Uproared the flame of the High one. 

The plunger in bow's river, 

Hewed Frey of the dew of Draupnir 

A bane-stroke ; and another 

Wrought wound for ; steel he reddened. 

CCX L The Story of Olaf the Holy. 43 1 

Then it was, as is said before, that the heaven 
was clear, but the sun vanished from sight, and it 
grew mirk. As says Sigvat : 

For not a little wonder 

Men deem it, when unclouded 

Was the sun, yet had no warming 

For the Niordings of the shroud-horse. 

On the day-tide fell great portent, 

When its fair hues the day gat not. 

From east away then heard I 

How it went, the Lord-king's battle. 

At this nick of time came up Day, the son of 
Rine, with the host he had led, and fell to 
arraying his battle, and set up his banner. But 
because that mickle was the mirk, their onset was 
nought speedy, whereas they knew not surely 
what might be before them. Howsoever they 
turned thither where before them were the men of 
Rogaland and Hordland. 

Now all these haps fell at one and the same 
time, though some happened a little before or a 
little later. 


KALF and Olaf are named two kinsmen 
of Kalf, the son of Arni, who stood on 
one side of him, mickle men, and valiant. 
Kalf was the son of Arnfinn, the son of Arnmod, 
and brother's son of Arni, the son of Arnmod. 
On the other side of Kalf Arnison went forth Thorir 
Hound. King Olaf hewed on Thorir Hound 

432 The Saga Library. CCXL 

right across the shoulders ; the sword did not 
bite, but it seemed as if dust flew out of the rein- 
deer skin. Hereof tells Sigvat : 

The bounteous king most clearly 
Himself found how the wise-work 
Of the witchcrafty Finn-folk 
Saved the big-fashioned Thorir; 
When the scatterer of the fire 
Of the mast-knop smote the shoulders 
Of Hound, and the sword gold-broidered, 
Blunted, would bite in nowise. 

Then Thorir smote at the king, and sundry 
blows they gave and took ; but the sword of the 
king bit not, whereas the reindeer-skin was in the 
way, yet was Thorir hurt in the hand. As again 
Sigvat sings : 

The wealth-pine, taunting Thorir, 
Owns not the soothful valour 
Of Hound. From home that wot I ; 
Who e'er saw deeds were doughtier. 
The Thrott of the storm of thwart-garth 
Of the fight-shed, he who thrust him 
Forth on there, dared to hew back 
At one who was a king-man. 

The king said to Biorn the Marshal : " Smite 
thou the hound whom iron will bite not." Biorn 
turned the axe in his hand and smote with the 
hammer thereof, and the blow took Thorir on 
the shoulder and was a full mighty blow, and 
Thorir staggered thereat. And in that same nick 
of time the king turned against Kalf and his kins- 
men, and gave a bane-wound to Olaf, a kinsman 
of Kalf. Then Thorir Hound thrust a spear at 
Biorn the Marshal, and smote him in the midst, 

CCXL The Story of Olaf the Holy. 433 

and gave him a bane-wound. Then spake Thorir : 
" Thus bait we the bears." 

Thorstein Shipwright smote at King Olaf with 
an axe, and the blow struck the left leg anigh the 
knee and above it. Finn Arnison smote Thor- 
stein down forthwith. But at this wound the 
king leaned him up against a stone and threw 
away his sword, and bade God help him. Then 
Thorir Hound thrust a spear at him. The 
thrust came on him below the byrny, and ran 
up into the belly. Then Kalf hewed at him, and 
that blow took him on the left side of the neck. 
But men are sundered on the matter, where Kalf 
gave the king the wound. These three wounds 
the king got towards the loss of his life. But 
after his fall, then most all the company fell which 
had gone forth with the king. Biarni Goldbrow- 
skald sang this on Kalf, the son of Arni : 

Fight-nimble, thou by battle 

Didst ward the land 'gainst Olaf ; 

Thou daredst the king most valiant, 

That, say I, I have heard of. 

To Sticklestead, deed-mighty. 

Thou wentst : forth rushed the banner ; 

Forsooth thou gavest onset 

Till the valiant king was fallen. 

And of Biorn the Marshal, Sigvat sang this : 

Eke heard I that erst Biorn 
Learned marshals throughly whatwise 
'Twas due to hold liege-fealty : 
He, too, was in the onset. 
He fell in the host of battle 
At the head of the king fame-wealthy ; 
That death is all be-prais^d 
'Mongst the faithful men king-warding. 
IV. F F 

434 1^^^ Saga Library. CCXLI 


THEN Day, the son of Ring, upheld the 
battle, and made the first onset so hard 
that the bonders shrank before him, and 
some turned to flight. Then there fell a multitude 
of the host of the bonders, and these landed-men 
besides, Erlend of Garth, Aslak of Finn-isle ; and 
therewith was hewn down the standard which they 
had fared with before. Then was the battle of 
the fiercest, and this they called Day's Brunt. 
Then turned against Day these : Kalf Arnison, to 
wit, Harek of Thiotta, and Thorir Hound, with 
the array which followed them. Then Day was 
overborne by sheer might, and he turned to flight, 
and all the host that was left. There was a 
certain dale there, up along which the main rout 
went, and there fell at this time a many of the 
host. Drifted then the folk away to two sides ; 
many were sorely hurt, and many so weary that 
they were good for nought at all. The bonders 
drove the chase but a short way, for the captains 
soon turned back, and thither where lay the fallen ; 
for many had there to look for their friends and 

CCXLIII Tlie Story of Olaf the Holy. 435 


THORIR HOUND went thereto where 
was the body of King Olaf, and gave 
lyke-help to it, laying the body down and 
straightening it and spreading a cloth thereover. 
And when he wiped the blood off the face, he said 
thereof afterwards, that the face of the king was 
so fair, that the cheeks were even as ruddy, as he 
were asleep ; but a mickle brighter than it was 
afore, while he was yet alive. Then came the 
blood of the king on to the hand of Thorir, and 
ran up unto the grip where he had afore gotten 
his hurt ; and there was no need of any binding 
up of that hurt thenceforth, so speedy was the 
healing thereof. Thorir bore witness to this hap 
himself, when the holiness of King Olaf became 
known to all folk ; and Thorir Hound was the 
first among the mighty men who had been of the 
host of his foes to uphold the holiness of the king. 


KALF, the son of Ami, sought for his 
brothers who were fallen there. He 
came upon Thorberg and Finn, and It is 
the say of men that Finn hurled a sax at him, and 
would slay him, and spake hard words at him, and 
called him a peace-dastard and a lord-betrayer. 
Kalf gave no heed thereto, but let bear Finn away 
from the slain and Thorberg in like wise. Then 

43^ The Saga Library. CCXLIV 

their wounds were searched, and they had no hurt 
deadly-looking ; they had fallen overborne by 
weapons and weariness. Then Kalf busied him 
to bring his brothers down aboard ship, and went 
with them himself. But so soon as he turned 
away, then fared away also all the host of the 
bonders which had their homes anigh there, out- 
taken such men as were busy there about their 
kinsmen or friends who were wounded, or about 
the bodies of them who had fallen. Wounded 
men were carried to the homestead, so that every 
house was full of them, and over some tents were 
pitched outside. 

Now as wonderful as it had been, how many 
people had been gathered together in the host of 
the bonders, yet men thought this no less far away 
from likelihood, how swiftly the gathering cleared 
off, when it came to that ; but this had much to do 
with it, that the greatest part of the multitude had 
been gathered together from neighbouring country- 
sides, and they were all very home-sick. 


THOSE bonders who had dwelling in 
Verdale went to meet the captains, 
Harek and Thorir, and made plaint to 
them of their troubles, and said thus : ** The fleers 
who have got away hence, will fare up along 
Verdale, and will gear our homesteads in un- 
profitable wise ; and for us is no going home so 
long as they be here in the dale. Now do ye so 

CCXLIV The Story of Olaf the Holy. 437 

well as to fare after them with a company, and 
let no child of them get away ; for that is the fate 
they were minded for us if they had got the best 
of our meeting ; and the very same will they yet 
do to us, if hereafter we shall meet in such wise, 
that the odds be against us on their side. Like 
enough, they will tarry about the dale if they deem 
they have nought to fear ; and they will now 
straightway be faring with riot about our dwelling." 
The bonders spoke hereof with many words, 
and urged with mickle eagerness that the captains 
should fare and slay the folk that had got away. 
And when the captains talked hereover between 
them, they deemed the bonders had said many 
things true in their talk ; so they took that rede, 
that Thorir Hound with six hundreds of men, his 
own company, to wit, turned him to faring with 
them of Verdale. And they went, whenas night 
fell in ; and Thorir letted not his journey till he 
came a-night-time up to Sula, where he heard 
the tidings that Day, the son of Ring, and many 
other flocks of Olaf's men, had come thither in the 
evening, and tarried there but for night-meal, and 
had sithence fared up on the fell. Then said Thorir 
that he would not drift after them over the fells, 
and therewith he turned down into the vale again, 
and but few men they got slain. Thereupon the 
bonders fared to their homes, but Thorir and his 
host went the next day down to their ships. But 
the king's men, they who were way-worthy, saved 
themselves, hiding in woods, and some got help 
from folk about. 

438 The Saga Library. CCXLV-VI 


wounded, but Rognvald, son of Brusi, 
brought him to a certain bonder the 
night after the battle ; and the bonder took Harald 
in and healed him in hiding, and then gave him 
his son to guide him away. They went with a 
hidden head through mountains and wildernesses, 
and came out into lamtland ; and they fared both 
together east into Garthrealm to King Jarisleif, 
even as is told in the story of Harald Sigurdson. 


in the battle under the banner of the 
king. And when the king was fallen, 
and the onset was at its fiercest, then fell the 
king's company each by the other, but most of 
them were wounded who stood up. Thormod was 
sore hurt, and he did then as other men, who all 
drew aback from there where they deemed was 
most risk of life, but some ran. Then arose the 
fight which is called Day's Brunt, wherein there 
joined all the host of the king that was still fight- 
worthy. But Thormod came not into that battle, 
for that he was unmeet for fighting, both through 
wounds and weariness ; but he stood there beside 
his fellows, though he might do nothing else. 
Then was he smitten by an arrow in the left side. 

CCXLVI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 439 

Then he broke the arrow-shaft from off him, and 
went away from the battle home to the houses, 
and came to a certain barn which was a mickle 
house. Thormod had a naked sword in his hand ; 
and as he went in, there came a man out against 
him, and said : *' Herewithin they go on wondrous 
ill, with whining and howling ; and a great shame 
it is that valiant men should not thole their 
wounds. Maybe the king's men have gone forth 
on right well, but all unmanly they bear their 
wounds." Thormod answered : " What is thy 
name ? " He named himself Kimbi. Answered 
Thormod : " Wert thou in the battle ? " "I was," 
says he, " with the bonders ; the better side, to wit." 
" Art thou hurt at all ? " says Thormod. " Little," 
says Kimbi, " or wert thou in the battle ? " Thor- 
mod answers : " I was, and with them who had 
the better." 

Kimbi saw that Thormod had a golden ring on 
his arm, and he said : " Thou must be of the 
king's men ; so hand me the gold ring, and I shall 
hide thee ; for the bonders will slay thee, if thou 
come in their way." Thormod says : " Take the 
ring, if thou mayst reach it ; now have I lost 
more." Kimbi reached forth his hand, and would 
take the ring. Thormod swept his sword, and 
sheared the hand from off him. And so is it said, 
that Kimbi bore his wound nowise better than the 
others whom he had been wyting before; and 
therewith Kimbi went away. 

But Thormod sat him down in the barn, and sat 
there a while, and hearkened to the talk of men. 
This was most spoken there, that each man sayeth 

440 The Saga Library. CCXLVII 

that which he deemed he had seen in the battle, and 
the talk was of onsets of men ; and some praised 
most the valour of King Olaf, and some named no 
less other men. Then sang Thormod : 

Bold was the heart of Olaf, 
Through blood the king forth waded ; 
At Sticklestead the wrought steel 
Bit, and the host craved battle. 
All pines of the gale of Jalfad, 
Save the very king, there saw I 
To spare themselves ; yet most men 
In the fast spear-drift did prove them. 


THORMOD walked away thereafter to a 
certain outhouse and went thereinto, and 
within there were already many men sore 
wounded. A certain woman was tending there, and 
binding up the wounds of men. On the floor 
there was a fire, and she was warming water for 
the cleansing of the wounds. But Thormod sat 
down out by the door. There one man went out 
as another came in of them who were busy about 
the wounded. Then one turned to Thormod, and 
looked on him and said : " Why art thou so pale ? 
Art thou wounded "^ or why biddest thou not 
leechdom for thee ? " Then Thormod sang this 
stave : 

Nay, nowise am I ruddy. 

But the slim white hawk-perch' Skogul, 

She hath a ruddy husband ; 

Of me, sore hurt, few mind them. 

CCXLVII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 441 

Thou, wont unto the murder 
Of Fenja's meal ! that maketh, 
That with the deep spoor smart I 
Of Day's brunt and Dane-weapons. 

Sithence Thormod stood up, and walked up to 
the fire, and stood there for a while. Then spake 
the leech to him : " Thou, man, go out and fetch 
me the billets which lie outside the door." He went 
out and bore in an armful of billets, and threw 
them down on the floor. Then the leech looked 
into the face of him, and said : " Wondrously pale 
is this man, why art thou so ? " Then sang 
Thormod : 

The oak of the hawk-lands wondereth 
Why we be pale : O woman ! 
The arrow drift I found me : 
'Tis few grow fair by wounding. 
It was the darksome metal, 
Driven by main, flew through me ; 
The perilous sharp iron 
Bit nigh the heart, so ween I. 

Then said the leech : *' Let me see thy wounds, 
that I may bind them up." Then Thormod sat 
down and cast the clothes from him. And when 
the leech saw his wounds, she searched about the 
wound he had in his side, and she found that iron 
stood therein, though she knew not for sure 
whither the iron had turned. She had made there 
in a stone kettle a mess of leeks and other herbs, 
and sodden that together, and she gave it to the 
wounded to eat, and tried in that manner whether 
they had hollow wounds ; whereas she kenned it 
from the leek smelling out through the wound 

442 The Saga Library, CCXLVIII 

which was in the hollow body. She bore this to 
Thormod and bade him eat. He answered : 
" Take it away ; I am not sick for grout." Then 
she took a gripping tongs, and would draw out 
the iron ; but it was fast, and stirred nowhither ; 
and it stood out but little because the wound was 
swollen. Then said Thormod : " Shear thou up 
to the iron, so that it may be well caught by the 
tongs, and then give them to me, and let me pull 
at it." 

She did as he bade. Then Thormod took a 
gold ring off his arm, and gave it to the leech, 
and bade her do with it what she would : " The 
giver is good," says he ; " King Olaf gave me the 
ring this morning." 

Then Thormod took the tongs, and pulled out 
the arrow ; and on the barbs of it lay sinews from 
the heart, some red, some white. And when he 
saw that, he said : " Well hath the king fed us ; fat 
am I yet at the heart-roots." Then he sank aback 
and was dead. And there is an end to the tale of 


KING OLAF fell on Wednesday, the 
iiiith of the calends of August. It was 
near noon, when they met, and before mid- 
day the battle began ; but before nones the king 
fell, and the darkness lasted from midday to nones. 
Sigvat the Skald tells thus of the end of the 

CCXLVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. ^\z 

Hard lack of the foe of the English, 
Since the men of war the king made 
Life-sick : the unsoft war-shield 
There for the king was riven. 
Folk-ruler, forth he wended 
Into the point-mote, whereat 
The host clave shields : the wild host 
Changed Olaf 's life. But Day fled. 

And further he sang this : 

The people wrought the king's death ; 

Fight-skerry-stems nought wotted 

Of such a strength, so many 

Of bonder-men and hersirs, 

That there the stems of wound-flame 

Such king should fell in onset 

As deemed was Olaf, Many 

Was the host that lay in blood there. 

The bonders did not plunder the fallen host ; 
and straightway after the fight it was rather so, that 
dread smote a many of them who had been against 
the king. Yet they held their illwill, and doomed 
between them, that all those men who had fallen 
with the king should get no such lyke-help or 
burial as beseemed good men ; and they called 
them all robbers and outlaws. But those men who 
were rich, and had kinsmen there among the fallen 
host, gave no heed to this, but brought their kins- 
men to churches and laid their bodies out. 

444 ^^^ Saga Library. CCXLIX 


THORGILS, son of Halma, and Grim, his 
son, fared to the fallen host in the evening, 
when mirk was. They took up the body 
of King Olaf and bore it away to a place, where 
there was a house-cot, little and waste, out away 
from the stead. They had light with them and 
water. So then they did the clothes off the 
body, and washed it, and sithence swaddled it in 
linen weed, and laid it down there within the 
house, and covered it up with wood, so that no one 
might see it, though men should come into the 
house. Then they went away and home to the 
stead. Many staff-carles had followed either army, 
and poor people who begged their meat. And the 
evening after the battle a many of that folk had 
tarried there, and when night fell, they sought 
harbour for themselves throughout all the houses, 
great and small. There was a certain blind man, 
of whom a tale is told ; he was a poor man, and 
his lad went about with him, and led him. They 
walked out a-doors about the stead seeking harbour, 
and came to that same void house, the door whereof 
was so low that one had nearly to creep in through 
it. And when the blind man came inside the 
house, he groped about on the floor, to find whether 
he might lay him down. He had a hat on his 
head, and the hat fell forward over his face, when 
he bent down. He found that before his hand 
there was a pool on the floor, and therewith he 
lifted the wet hand and set the hat right again, 

CCXLIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 445 

and therewith the wet fingers came up against his 
eyes. And forthwith fell so great itching on his 
eyelids, that he stroked the wet fingers across his 
very eyes. Then he betook himself out of the 
house again, saying there was no lying therein, for 
it was all wet. And when he came out of the 
house, he saw forthwith, first his two hands one 
from the other, and then all such things as were 
near enough for him to see in spite of night-mirk. 
He went home forthwith to the stead and into the 
guest-chamber, and there told all folk that he had 
got his sight, and that now he was a seeing man. 
But that wotted many men, that he had been long 
blind, for he had been there before, going about 
from house to house. He said that he had got his 
sight first when he came out of a certain house, 
little and wretched, " and all was wet therewithin," 
says he, " and I groped thereinto with my hands, 
and I rubbed my eyes with my wet hands." He 
told also where the house stood. 

But the men within there, when they heard these 
tidings, wondered greatly at this hap, and spoke 
between themselves what there could be within 
that house. But goodman Thorgils and his son 
Grim deemed they knew whence this hap would 
have come, and were in great dread lest the un- 
friends of the king should go and ransack the 
house. Then they stole away, and went to the 
house and took the body, and flitted it away and 
into the meadow, and hid it there, and then fared 
back to the stead and slept through that night. 

446 The Saga Library. CCL 


THORIR HOUND came on the Thursday 
down from Verdale out to Sticklestead, 
and a much host followed him, and much 
was there still before him of the bonder-host. 
Now the fallen host was still being broken up, and 
men bore off the bodies of their friends or kinsmen, 
and gave help to such wounded men, as men 
would heal ; but by that time many men had died 
since the battle was done. 

Thorir Hound went thereto whereas the king 
had fallen, and searched for the body, and when 
he found it not, he speered thereof, whether any 
man could to tell him where the body might 
be. But no one knew how to tell that. Then 
he asked goodman Thorgils if he knew aught as 
to where was the body of the king. Thorgils 
answers : " I was not in the battle ; I know few 
tidings to tell thereof; many tales fare thereof 
now ; yea, it is now said, that King Olaf has 
been met last night up by Staff, and a company 
of men with him ; but if he has fallen, then will 
thy men have hidden his body up in holts or 

Now although Thorir deemed he knew for truth 
that the king was fallen, yet many joined in the 
murmur that the king must have gotten out of the 
battle, and that they would have but a little while 
to wait till he should get together an host and 
come on their hands. 

Then fared Thorir to his ships, and sithence 
down the firth. Then fell all the bonder-host 

CCLI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 447 

to drift away, and they brought away all the 
wounded men that could be moved. 


the father and son, had in their keeping 
the body of King Olaf, and were much 
mind-sick herein, to wit, how they might so heed 
it, that the unfriends of the king should not get to 
mishandle the body ; for they heard the bonders 
say as much as that the thing to be done, if the 
body of the king should be found, would be, to burn 
it or to take it out to sea and sink it in the deep. 

That father and son had seen in the night as it 
were a candle-light burning over the spot where 
the body of King Olaf lay amidst of the fallen 
host, and also thereafter, wheresoever they had 
hidden the body, they saw ever at night a light, 
looking thither whereas the king was resting. 
They dreaded lest the unfriends of the king should 
seek for the body even where it was, if they saw 
these tokens ; so therefore Thorgils and his son 
were wistful to bring the body away to some such 
place that it should be safe there. They made a 
chest, and wrought it in the best way they could, 
and laid therein the body of the king; sithence 
they made another lyke-chest and put into it straw 
and stones, so that it should be the weight of a 
man, and locked that chest heedfully. 

Now, when the whole host of the bonders was 
gone away from Sticklestead, Thorgils and Grim 

44^ The Saga Library. CCLI 

arrayed their journey. Thorgils got a certain 
rowing-ferry ; they were seven or eight together, 
and all of them kinsmen or friends of Thorgils. 
They brought the body of the king on board ship 
stealthily, and put the chest under deck. That 
chest they also had with them, wherein were the 
stones, and set that on board ship, so that all men 
might see it ; and after that they fare out along the 
firth, with a fair wind, and came in the evening, as 
mirk set in, down to Nidoyce, and lay-to by the 
king's pier. Then Thorgils sent men up into 
the town, and let tell to Bishop Sigurd that they 
fared there with the body of King Olaf. And 
when the bishop heard these tidings, he sent forth- 
with his men down to the bridges, where they took 
a rowing cutter and boarded the ship of Thorgils, 
and bade him hand over to them the body of the 
king. Then Thorgils and his men took the chest 
which stood upon the deck, and bore it into the 
cutter ; whereupon these men rowed out into the 
firth, and there sunk down the chest. 

By this time it was the mirk of night. Thorgils 
and his men then rowed up the river, until the town 
was cleared, and laid to shore where it was called 
Saurlithe, which was above the town ; and then they 
bore the body up and into a certain waste outhouse 
which stood there, up away from other houses, and 
there they waked over the body the night through. 
But Thorgils went down into the town, and met 
there men to talk to, such as had been most friends 
of King Olaf, and asked them if they would take 
over the body of the king ; but no man durst to 
do it. Then Thorgils and Grim brought the body 

CCLII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 449 

up along the river, and buried it in a certain sand- 
hill which there is, and sithence dight the place, 
so that no new work might be seen thereon. All 
this they had done before the dawn of day ; and 
then went back to their ship and put out of the 
river at once, and went on their way until they 
came home to Sticklestead. 


SVEIN, the son of King Knut and Alfiva, 
the daughter of Earl Alfrun, had been set 
up in Jomsburg to rule over Wendland. 
But then had come to him a message from his 
father Knut, that he should go to Denmark, and 
furthermore that he should fare to Norway sithence, 
and there take over that realm to rule over which 
was in Norway, and therewith have the king's name 
over Norway. Thereupon Svein went to Den- 
mark, and had away with him thence a great host, 
and with him went Earl Harald and many other 
men of might. Of this Thorarin Praisetongue 
maketh mention in that lay which is called " Sea- 
calm's-lay" : 

No doubt there is, 
How Danes did make 
A faithful faring 
With a famed lord. 
There was the earl, 
The first to upheave, 
And each man was. 
Of them that followed, 
Each fellow better, 
Than was the other. 
IV. G G 

450 The Saga Library. CCLIII 

Sithence fared Svein to Norway, and with him 
Alfiva his mother ; and there he was taken for 
king at every Law-Thing. He was come from the 
east into the Wick at the very time, when the fight 
of Sticklestead was fought and King Olaf fell. 
Svein made no halt in his journey until he came 
in the autumn north to Thrandheim ; and there, 
as in other places, he was taken for king. 


KING SVEIN brought new laws into the 
land for many matters, which were framed 
after the manner of the laws of Denmark, 
but some mickle harder. No man was to fare out 
of the land but by the leave of the king ; but 
should he go without, his goods were forfeited to 
the king. Whoso should slay a man should forfeit 
both lands and chattels. If a man were in out- 
lawry, and inheritance should fall to him, then gat 
the king that inheritance. At Yule every man 
was to bring the king a measure of malt for every 
hearth, and a thigh of a three-winter ox, that was 
called pasture-tod, and a keg of butter withal ; and 
every housewife was to give housewife's-tow, that 
is to say, so much of undressed flax as might be 
spanned by the biggest finger and the longest. 
The bonders were bound to build all such houses 
as the king would have at his manors. Every 
seven men older than five years old should make 
one man war-fit, and therewith have thole-thong. 
Every one who rowed out for deep-sea fishing 

C C L 1 1 1 Tlie Story of Olaf the Holy . 451 

should pay the king land-toll, whencesoever he 
rowed, five fishes to wit. Every ship sailing away 
from the land should keep for the king one room 
right athwart the ship. Every man who should go 
to Iceland should pay land-tax, were he inlander or 
outlander. That followed this, that Danes should 
have such mickle account in Norway, that the 
witness of one of them should undo the witness 
of ten Norwegians. But when these laws were laid 
bare before all folk, men began forthwith to raise 
their minds against them, and murmured among 
themselves ; and those who had taken no part in 
withstanding King Olaf would say : " Take ye 
now, Up-Thrandheimers, the friendship and re- 
ward at the hands of the Knytlings for fighting 
King Olaf and cutting him off from his land ; ye 
were promised peace and bettered laws, and now 
ye get bondage and thraldom, and thereto huge 
misdeeds and nithing." And it was not easy to 
speak against this ; for all men saw that matters 
had gone unhappily. But men had no trust to 
make uprising against King Svein, for this sake 
mostly, that men had given their sons or close 
kinsmen as hostages to King Knut ; and this 
withal, that there was no one to be leader to the 
uprising. Soon people had many plaints to make 
against King Svein, yet men laid most blame on 
Alfiva for all that went against the people's mind. 
And then the true tale about King Olaf could be 
got from many a man. 

452 The Saga Library. CCLIV-V 


THAT winter uphove the word of many 
men there in Thrandheim, that King Olaf 
was a truly holy man, and that many 
tokens befell at his holy relic. And then many 
began to make vows to King Olaf about those 
matters whereon they had set their hearts. From 
such vows many folk got bettering; some the 
bettering of their health, some good speed for 
journeys, or other such things as were looked 
upon as needful. 


\ now come back west away from England 
^ to his lands, and had on hand such grants 
as King Knut had gotten to him, when they met 
in Thrandheim, and all that came nigh to an earl's 
dominion. Einar Thambarskelfir had not been 
in the withstanding of King Olaf, and of this he 
boasted himself. Einar bore in mind, how Knut 
had promised him earldom over Norway, and saw 
that the king did not keep his behests. Einar was 
the first among the mighty men to uphold the 
holiness of King Olaf. 

CCLVII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 453 


F'^INN, the son of Arni, tarried but a short 
{ time at Eggja with Kalf his brother, for 
he took it most sorely to heart, that Kalf 
had been in the battle against King Olaf ; and for 
that sake Finn would ever be laying heavy words 
on Kalf. Thorberg, son of Arni, was much more 
ruled of his speech than Finn, yet desired he also 
to fare away to his own house. So Kalf gave to 
the brothers a good longship, with all rigging and 
other gear, and a good company, and they fared 
back to their homesteads. Arni Arnison lay long 
sick of his wounds, yet grew he whole thereof and 
was unmaimed ; and afterwards he went that 
winter south to his home. All these brethren 
took truce for themselves from King Svein, and 
settled down in quiet at their homes. 


NEXT summer there grew up mickle talk 
about the holiness of King Olaf, and all 
word-rumour about the king was changed. 
There were many now, who took it for sooth, that 
the king would be a holy man, even among them 
who had erst gone against him with full hatred and 
would not in any way own the truth about him. 
Now folk began to turn to wyting them who had 
most egged on to the withstanding of the king ; 
and much of that wyte was laid at the door of 

454 'The Saga Library. CCLVIII 

Bishop Sigurd. And men became there so much 
his unfriends, that he saw that his best choice was 
to fare away and west to England to see King 
Knut. Then the men of Thrandheim made men 
and word-sending to the Uplands, that Bishop 
Grimkel should come north to Thrandheim. 
King Olaf had sent Bishop Grimkel back to 
Norway, when the king went east to Garthrealm, 
and sithence had Bishop Grimkel been in the 
Uplands. And when this message came to the 
bishop, he arrayed himself to go forthwith on that 
journey. And this urged him much, that the 
bishop trowed that it was true what was said 
about King Olaf's working of miracles, and of his 


BISHOP GRIMKEL went to see Einar 
Thambarskelfir, and Einar gave the bishop 
a hearty welcome, and they spoke about 
many matters, and this withal, of the great tidings 
which had befallen in the land. And in all their talk 
they were of one accord together. Sithence fared 
the bishop up to Chippingham, and there all the 
folk gave him a good welcome. He speered heed- 
fully *at all the wonders that were told of King 
Olaf, and heard tell well thereof. Then the bishop 
sent word up to Sticklestead to Thorgils, and 
Grim, his Json, and summoned them down to the 
town to meet him there. The father and son laid 
not that journey under their head, but fared down 

CCLVIII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 455 

to the town to meet the bishop. And they told him 
all those tokens, whereof they had knowledge, and 
this withal, where they had bestowed the body of 
the king. Then the bishop sent for Einar Tham- 
barskelfir, and he also came to the town ; and he 
and Einar spake with the king and with Alfiva, 
praying that the king would give leave to take King 
Olaf's body out of the earth. The king gave 
leave thereto, and bade the bishop go about that 
matter as he would. There was then mickle throng 
of folk in the town. So the bishop and Einar and 
other men with them fared thereto, whereas the 
body of the king was buried, and let digging be 
done there, and the chest was then come up well- 
nigh out of the earth. Many men urged that the 
bishop should let the chest be buried in earth at 
Clement's Church, and so it was done. And when 
twelve months and five nights were worn from the 
death of King Olaf, his holy relic was taken up, and 
again the chest was wellnigh come up out of the 
earth, and then the chest of King Olaf was as 
span-new as if it had been newly shaven. 

Then Grimkel the bishop came up to where the 
chest of King Olaf was opened, and was there 
glorious fragrance. Then the bishop bared the 
face of the king, and in no wise had his visage 
turned, and was as ruddy in the cheeks as they 
would be, if he were just gone to sleep. But 
herein men found mickle change, even they who 
had seen King Olaf when he fell, that sithence 
had waxed his hair and his nails wellnigh as much 
as they would, if he had been alive here in the 
world all the while sithence he fell. 

456 The Saga Librmy. CCLVIII 

Then came forth to see the body of King Olaf 
King Svein, and all the chieftains who there were. 
Then spake Alfiva : " Wondrous slow do men rot 
in sand ; this would not have been so if he had lain 
in mould." 

Then the bishop took a pair of scissors and 
sheared off the hair of the king, and took some- 
what off of his beard ; for he had had a long beard, 
as was then the wont of men. And the bishop 
spoke to the king and to Alfiva : "Now are the 
hair and the beard of the king as long as they 
were when he died, and they have waxen by so 
much as ye now see has been cut off." 

Then answereth Alfiva : " I shall deem this 
hair a holy relic, if it burn not in fire ; but we have 
often seen the hair whole and unspoilt of men such 
as have lain longer in earth than this man has." 

Then the bishop let take fire in a censer, and 
blessed it and laid incense thereon, and sithence 
laid on the fire the hair of King Olaf; and when 
all the incense was burnt out, the bishop took the 
hair out of the fire, and then was the hair un- 
burnt. And the bishop let the king see that, and the 
other chieftains withal. But then Alfiva bade the 
hair be put in unhallowed fire ; but Einar Tham- 
barskelfir answered, and bade her hold her peace, 
and chose for her many hard words. And so the 
bishop declared, and the king assented thereto, and 
all the folk judged, that King Olaf was verily a holy 

Then was the body of the king borne into 
Clement's Church, and laid out over the high 
altar. The chest was wrapt in pall, and hangings 

CCLIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 457 

of goodly web done around. And straightway 
many marvels befell at the holy relic of King Olaf. 


THERE, in the sand-heap, where King 
Olaf had lain in earth, there came up a fair 
well, and many folk gat healing of their ills 
of that water. The well was built over, and that 
water hath ever since been heedfuUy guarded. 
First there was made a chapel there, and the altar 
was reared where had been the tomb of the king ; 
but now stands on that stead Christ Church ; and 
Archbishop Eystein had the high altar set up on 
that same stead, where the king's tomb had been, 
when he reared the great minster which now 
standeth, and on that same stead had also stood 
the altar in the ancient Christ Church. So it is 
said, that Olaf's church now stands, where that 
waste outhouse stood, where the body of King 
Olaf was set nightlong. That is now called Olaf 's- 
lithe where the holy relic of the king was borne 
aland up from the ship, and is now in the midst of 
the town. The bishop guarded the holy relic of 
the king, cut his hair and nails, because either 
grew even as if he were a living man here in the 
world. So saith Sigvat the Skald : 

I lie if Olaf own not, 

Like quick men, scratching servants ; 

But the waxing of the king's hair, 

That praise I most in singing. 

Yet unto him hair holdeth, 

Who left his son, still growing, 

458 The Saga Library. CCLIX 

In Garthrealm : Waldemar gat him 
Woe's loosing from the bright head. 

Thorarin Praisetongue wrought on Svein Alfiva- 
son that lay which is called " Seacalm's-lay," and 
wherein are found these staves : 

Now for himself 

Hath a seat made handy 

The king of folk 

In Thrandheim country ; 

There will ever 

All his lifetime 

That ring-breaker 

Rule his dwelling. 

There where Olaf 

Dwelt aforetime, 

Or ever he hied 

To heaven's kingdom ; 

And there became, 

As all men wot it, 

A hallow quick 

From a man of king-folk. 

Harald's son 
Had hard areded 
Himself to be 
Of heaven's kingdom, 
Ere the gold-breaker 
Became peace-prayer. 
The noblest king 
Of Christ beloved. 

There so clean 
With a whole body 
Lieth in peace 
The king praise-blessed. 
So that there now, 
Like unto live men, 
Do hair and nail 
Wax upon him. 

CCLIX The Story of Olaf the Holy. 459 

There round his bed 
Of boards arrayed, 
Of their own selves 
Are the bells a-ringing, 
And every day 
The folk may hear 
The sound of bells 
Around the king. 

But up above there 

Over the altar, 

Candles burn 

To Christ well-pleasing. 

So hath Olaf, 

Or ever he died. 

Sinless all, 

His own soul saved. 

There hosts are coming 

Where holy is 

The king himself. 

And kneel for helping. 

Blind men, and they 

That pray for speech-words, 

Thither seek. 

And thence go healed. 

Bid thou to Olaf, 
That man of God, 
To win thee brooking 
Of his land here : 
For he doth get 
From God himself 
The year and the peace 
For all men ever. 

When word thou openest 
Unto the main-bolt 
Of the holy book-speech, 
Thy very prayers .... 

Thorarin Praisetongue was with King Svein, 
and heard these wondrous tokens of the holiness 

460 The Saga Library, CCLX 

of King Olaf, that men might hear over his holy- 
relic, sounds made by heavenly powers ; in that 
bells rang themselves, also that candles would light 
of themselves over the altar by a heavenly fire. 
Now, even as Thorarin says that to the holy Olaf 
came an host of folk, halt and blind, or in other 
ways held of sickness, and went thence healed ; but 
he tells of nought else, nor setteth forth aught than 
that there must have been a multitude of men not 
to be counted, who eot healino- then forthwith in 
the beginning of the miracle-working of the holy 
King Olaf. But of the miracles of King Olaf only 
the ofreatest have been most written about, and set 
forth, and such as did befall later than this. 


SO say men who count with care, that Olaf 
the Holy was king over Norway for fifteen 
winters from the time that Earl Svein went 
out of the land, but the winter before he took the 
king's name of the Uplanders. So says Sigvat 
the Skald : 

O'er the land was Olaf ruling 

For winters fully fifteen, 

Ere fell his head the gracious. 

As his life-grant came to ending. 

What land-ruler more glorious 

Hath ever claimed him kingship 

In the northmost world's-end ? Shorter 

He held him than he should have. 

King Olaf the Holy was forty and five years old 

CCLXI The Story of Olaf the Holy. 461 

whenas he fell, according to what the priest Ari 
the Learned says. He had had twenty folk-battles. 
So says Sigvat the Skald : 

Some men in God they trowbd ; 
Diversely were folk minded. 
The king bold-redy fought him 
A twenty of felk-battles. 
The famed one bade folk christened 
On his right hand be standing : 
The Lord God pray I welcome 
The flight-shy Magnus' father. 

Now is written some part of the story of King 
Olaf, concerning certain of such tidings as befell 
while he ruled over Norway, also concerning the 
fall of him, and the coming up of his holiness. 
But now shall that not lie alow which is of the 
greatest glory to him, to wit, the story of his doing 
of tokens, though that be written later in this book. 


KING SVEIN, the son of Knut, ruled over 
Norway certain winters. He was but a 
child of age and counsel. Alfiva, his 
mother, had most to say in the rule of the land, 
and the folk of the land were mickle unfriends of 
her, both then and always sithence. Danish men 
had then in Norway mickle mastery, and the 
folk of the land were right ill content thereat. 
When such talk was had up, the other men of the 
land wyted the Thrandheim folk that they had most 
wrought it King Olaf the Holy was cut off from 
his land, and that the Norway men had laid them 

462 The Saga Library. CCLXI 

under this evil rule, whereby bondage and thral- 
dom had stridden over all folk there, rich men and 
unrich, and all the Folk ; and they claimed that the 
Thrandheim men were in duty bound to aid an up- 
rising, ** to this end, to thrust off from us this over- 
mastery." Moreover, the people of the land would 
have it that the Thrandheim folk had the most 
strength in Norway then, both by reason of their 
chieftains and of the multitude of folk that was there. 

But when the Thrandheimers wist that the folk 
of the land was thus wyting them, they owned to 
it that it was sooth speech, and that a great folly 
had overtaken them, whereas they had cut King 
Olaf from both life and land, and that therewithal 
their ill-hap was with great evil yolden. 

So the chiefs had meetings and took counsel 
together, and Einar Thambarskelfir was at the 
head of these redes. So withal was it with Kalf 
Arnison, that he found now into what a snare he 
had gone by the egging of King Knut, for the 
behests he had given to Kalf were all broken ; 
for King Knut had promised to Kalf earldom 
and rule over all Norway, and Kalf had been the 
head-man in holding battle with King Olaf, and in 
cutting him off from his land ; but Kalf had no 
higher titles now than erst, and deemed he had 
been betrayed. Hence words passed between the 
brethren, Kalf and Finn, Thorberg and Arni, and 
their brotherhood shaped itself again. 

CCLXII The Story of Olaf the Holy. 463 


"X "T THEN Svein had been three winters in 
\ \ / Norway, tidings were heard in Norway, 

V V that west over sea a flock was gather- 
ing, and over it was a lord who is named Tryggvi, 
and called himself son of Olaf Tryggvison and of 
Gyda the English. And when King Svein heard, 
that an outland host would be coming to the land, 
he called out a muster from the north of the land, 
and most of the landed-men fared with him out of 
Thrandheim. But Einar Thambarskelfir sat at 
home, and would not fare with King Svein. And 
when the word-sending of King Svein came to 
Kalf up to Eggja, that he should row to the war 
with the king, then took Kalf a craft of twenty 
benches which he owned, and went aboard it with 
his house-carles, and arrayed him in hot haste, 
and then made down the firth, and abode not 
Kinor Svein. Sithence Kalf went on south to 
Mere, nor stayed his journey till he came south to 
Gizki to Thorberg his brother. Then all the 
brethren, the sons of Arni, had a meeting together, 
and took counsel between them ; whereupon Kalf 
went north again. But when he came into Frekisle- 
sound, there lay before him in the sound King 
Svein with his host. So when Kalf rowed from 
the south into the sound, they called out to each 
other, and the king's men bade Kalf fall in, and 
follow the king and ward his land. 

Kalf answered : " Fully have I done it, if I 
have not overdone it, to fight with the folk of 

464 The Saga Library. CCLXIII 

our own land in aid of the rule of the Knyt- 

And so Kalf and his rowed north on their way, 
and he went on until he came home to Eggja. 

None of the sons of Arni rowed this muster 
with the king. 

Now King Svein held with his host south into 
the land ; and when he got no news of the host 
having come from the west, he held on even unto 
Rogaland and all the way to Agdir ; for men were 
minded to think that Tryggvi would first want to 
make his way east into the Wick, for there his fore- 
fathers had been and had most avail at their back, 
and there he had great strength in his kindred. 


KING TRYGGVI, when he came up 
from the west, hove in with his host to 
Hordland. Then he heard that King 
Svein had sailed south. Then held King Tryggvi 
south to Rogaland. But when King Svein got 
the news of the journey of Tryggvi, whenas he 
was come from the west, he turned back northward 
with his war-host, and the meeting of him and 
Tryggvi was inside of Bokn in Sokensound, near 
to the place, where Erling Skialgson had fallen. 
There befell a mickle battle and hard. So men 
tell thereof, that Tryggvi shot barbed shafts with 
both hands at once, saying : " So learned me mass 
my father ! " For his unfriends had said as much 
as that he would be the son of a certain priest, but 

CCLXIII The Story of Ola f the Holy. 465 

he boasted hereof that now he was more Hke to 
King Olaf Tryggvison ; and indeed Tryggvi was 
a man of the doughtiest. 

In this battle fell King Tryggvi, together with 
many of his folk, but some fled away, and some 
came in under truce. So it is said in the " Tryggvi- 
flock " : 

Fared Tryggvi, keen of honour. 

From the northward unto battle ; 

But King Svein took his faring 

From the south. There fell the slaughter. 

Nigh to their fray then was I ; 

'Twas brought about right swiftly. 

A host there lost their life-days ; 

There was the sword a-yelling. 

This battle is told of in that " flock " which was 
wrought about Kino- Svein : 

Woman ! 'twas not last Sunday 
As when a maid is bearing 
The leek or the ale to man-folk. 
There many a clean edge louted, 
When Svein the king his lads bade 
To lash the bows of the war-ships 
Together there ; to the raven 
Raw flesh to tear was given. 

After this battle King Svein then ruled still the 
land, and then good peace prevailed. The winter 
following King Svein sat behind south in the land. 

IV. H H 

466 The Saga Library. CCLXIV-V 


THAT winter Einar Thambarskelfir and 
Kalf, the son of Arni, had meetings 
between them, and contriving of redes, 
and were meeting in Chippingham. Then there 
came to Kalf Arnison a messenger from King 
Knut, and bore him the message of King Knut, 
to wit, that Kalf should send him three twelves of 
axes, and let them be much heedfully done. Kalf 
answers : " Nought will I send axes to King 
Knut ; tell him that I shall fetch axes to Svein, 
his son, so that he shall not deem that he is short 


E'^ ARLY in the spring they, Einar Tham- 
\ barskelfir and Kalf, son of Arni, arrayed 
^ their journey, and had with them a mickle 
following of men, and that the best of all that 
was in the Thrander-lag. They fared in the 
spring east over the Keel to lamtland, then to 
Helsingland, and next came down into Sweden, 
and there got a-shipboard, and in the summer 
fared east into Garthrealm, and in the harvest 
came to Aldeigiaburg. Then they sent messengers 
up to Holmgarth, to see King Jarisleif, with this 
errand, to wit, that they bade to Magnus, the son 

CCLXV The Story of Olaf tJic Holy. 467 

of King Olaf the Holy, that they would take him 
up and follow him to Norway, and give him strength 
hereto, that he come by his father's heritage, and 
that they uphold him for king over the land. 

But when this message came to King Jarisleif, 
then took he counsel with the queen and other of 
his chieftains ; and they were of one mind to send 
word to the Northmen, and to summon them 
thither to a meeting with King Jarisleif and 
Magnus ; and for that journey a safe-conduct was 
given to them. But when they came to Holm- 
garth, it was made fast between them, that the North- 
men that there were should go under the hand of 
Magnus, and become his men ; and they bound 
this with oaths from Kalf and those other men 
who had been at Sticklestead against King Olaf. 
So Magnus gave them pledges and full peace, 
and bound it by oath that he should be to all of 
them trusty and true, though he gat dominion and 
kingdom over Norway ; he should be made foster- 
son of Kalf Arnison, and Kalf should be in 
duty bound to do all such works, whereby Magnus 
might deem that his dominion should be greater 
and freer than afore. 





Of the less obvious " kenningar " (periphrases). For abbre- 
viated references see vol. i., p. 381. 

Page 5. 

STEED of the blood of meadows : " blakkr dreyra 
vengis" = ship ; blood of meadows = water, the 
steed thereof, ship. 
Page 6. I . The sea-caster : " unn-varpaSr," an epithet 
to the rudder. 

2. Feeder of swans of fight-ale : " dolg-linns svan- 
brsE=Sir " = braiSir svans dolg-linns: d61g = fight; Hnn = 
li=5 (of i^Sjjri = innri, mefr^menn, saSr = sannr, etc.) = 
ale; fight-ale = blood, the swan thereof = raven, carrion 
bird, its feeder = warrior, here King Olaf. 

3. The long sea-log : " langr sja-mei^r " = longship. 
King's read kings'; kings' kindred: "jofra kundr," 

King Olaf 

Page 7. Wolf's foot reddened : " rauS ulfs f6t " = shed 

blood in battle. 

Page 9. 1 . Warrior-wager : " gildir flotna " = mercedem 
solvens classiariis. 

Isle-syslings' war-host : " Eysyslu li«," the folk of the 
Isle-sysla or island of GEscl. 

Page 10. Steel-wreath : " stals hrf=5 " = steel tempest, 


Page II. I. Surf-skate: "brim-ski^ " = ship. 

2. Gunn's song : " Gunnar galdr " = battle. Gunn, one 
of the " valkyrjur " (S. E. i. 1 20). 

Peace unlittle was cleft betwixt the kings' host : 
" oh'till fri^r gekk sundr a miSli jofra li^s." The reading 

472 The Saga Library. 

of A. M. 6i, fol. oli'tit, adv., not little = greatly, i.e. peace 
was sundered wide apart, a great battle was fought, 
seems preferable. 

Page 15. I. The cunning of Ygg's storm : " kennir 
Yggs ela": Yggr=Odin, his el, squall, storm = battle, 
the cunning one thereof, a warrior, King Olaf. — Land of 
snakes : "linns land " = gold. 

3. Ygg's brunt = Ygg's storm. 

Page 16. I. The ward of Harald's heirship : " arf- 
vorSr Haralds," King Olaf. 

Page 20. Where slain was very fleeing : where fleeing 
was brought to a deadlock, rendered impossible. 

Page 21. I. Peita, Poitou ; Tuskaland, Touraine. 

2. Warrand = Guarande, a landscape of Britany. 

Page 23. Life-luck unto Wolf's father, i.e. to Rogn- 
vald Wolfson, Earl of West-Gautland, whose sons were 
Wolf and Eilif Fs. iv. 198. 

Page 26. I. Praise have I, read : heave I, z>. begin L 
The lord be-praised.= Knut the Rich ; lord the helm- 
wont = Earl Eric; lords be-landed = landed men. 

2. The well-praised Thund (not " grove ") of the sea- 
horse : " leyfSr jjundr grae^is bests ; " sea-horse = ship, its 
Thund = Odin, god, here Earl Eric. — Shield-rain, " ronn 
{i.e. rond) regn" = drift of shot weapons against shields, 
a battle. 

Page 29. I. Bounteous of the tempest of corpse-fire : 
"ve^r-orr val-fasta " = " orr ve^rs val-fasta " : valr, coll, 
the bodies of those slain in battle = Odin's chosen host, 
the fire thereof = sword, it* tempest = battle ; the boun- 
teous one thereof, he who frequently gives battle, here 
King Olaf. — Kings' thoft-mate : " Skjoldunga fopti " = 
a compeer of kings, King Olaf. 

2. -^gir, the god of the sea (S. E. i. 206). 

Page 31. Feeder of blood-seas' blue choughs: 
" brs^Sir ben-gjalfrs bla-gjo^a " = feeder of ravens, carrion 
birds. — Feeder of mew of Thrott's Thing: "]7r6ttar 
pings ma-grennir " = "grennir mas frottar fings " ; Thrott 
= Odin, his Thing = battle, the mew thereof = raven. 

Explanations. 473 

Page 32. Dane-tongue, a geographical expression for 
those lands of the north within which was spoken the 
tongue of the Trans-Baltic Germans, the ancient name for 
which was " donsk tunga." 

Page 51-52. I. Scather of mirk-blue steed of the tilt: 
"meiSir myrk-blas drasils tjalda" = vanquisher of war- 
ships : tjald = tilt, awning, its drasill = horse, a ship. — 
Might of singing : " hroSrs hli't " = that support, further- 
ance, that the celebration in song of worthy deeds may 

Page 52. 2. Battle Niord : "soknar NjorSr," god of 
fight, warrior, here King Olaf — Stem of the lair of the 
brother of the serpent : " ])ollr latrs linns bloSa " : bl6Si = 
brother, linnr = serpent, the serpent's brother = serpent, 
its latr = lair = gold, its stem = man, here King Olaf 

3. Gladdeners of fight vulture: "gunnar gammteit- 
endr = teitendr gunnar gamms " = warriors, men ; the 
king's body-guard being probably alluded to. — Sea's fire : 
"segis eldr" = gold, i.e. the "golden ring which weighed 
half a mark." — Waster of lair of mead -fish (not 
" worm ") : " engi-liiru latr-fverrandi = Jjverrandi latrs 
engi-luru," mead-fish = serpent, its lair = gold, its waster, 
one who freely makes gifts of it to his men, here 
King Olaf 

Page 57. Rodi's deer: " Ro^a reinn " ( = hreinn = 
reindeer) = ship. Rodi, a sea-king of fame (S. E. i. 


Page 58. I. Craftsmaster of point-frost : " kcnnir 
odda-frosts " ; frost, quality of weather, hence weather, 
hence storm, point-frost therefore = brunt of battle, battle. 
— Carl's head, name of King Olaf s ship, cf ch. xlv.^ 

2. Breeze of the moon of battle : " sig-mana gjoS " ; 
sig = battle, its moon = shield, the breeze, wind, storm 
thereof = brunt of fight. 

Page 59. I. The sark-din of Gondul : " Gondlar serks 
gnyr": Gondul, a Valkyrja (S. E. i. 557), her sark = a 
byrny, coat of mail, the din thereof = battle. — Steed of 
tackle: "strengjar j6r " = ship. 

474 ^^^^ Saga Library. 

Page 60. Ygg's black chough : " Yggs svartr gj6Sr " 
= Odin's black raven. 

Page 61. I. Fight's swift driver: " gunnar snar- 
raekir" = King Olaf. — Bidder of fire of the ship's out- 
land : " boSi elda knarrar ut-hau^rs " ; the ship's out- 
land, the vast main, sea, the fire thereof = gold, the 
bidder thereof = the bestower, giver of gold, a bounteous 
man, here King Olaf. — Bole of byrny : " vi^r brynju " = 
King Olaf. The commas after hindrance and outland 
should be removed, and bidder = to bidder. What the 
verse expresses is this : " Thou (king) badest me (the 
poet) farewell ; I returned the same answer to you. I, 
having no time to stop, ' sold' ( = returned) to the ' bidder, 
etc' {i.e. King Olaf) the very ' word of the high-born ' 
one {i.e. King Olaf) that I had ' bought ' (taken, heard, 
perceived) of him (King Olaf, the bole of byrny)." 

2. Bidder of the tempest of the wave-elk : " hri^-bo^i 
hranna-elgs " : hranna elgr = waves' elk = ship, its tempest 
= ships' fight, naval battle, the bidder thereof, a com- 
mander at sea, here Earl Svein, 

3. Wound-serpent : " sara linnr " = sword, its swayer, a 
warrior, here King Olaf.— Ati's skate no little: "Ata 
andurr 61itiU" = the big ship. King Olaf's longship (on 
board which the bracketed lines, compared with this 
page (61), line 7, seem to indicate that the poet sat long 
" in fetters "). 

Page 63. I. Sound-sun's spender : " sunda-sunnu 
verr": sund = sound = sea, its sun = beam = fire, gold, its 
spender = man. — Splice - knot's steed : " sam - kniita 
blakkr" = ship (a doubtful kenning, though what is 
meant, is certain). 

2. Who beardling went in onset : " er fram sotti 
skeggi " : whose beard was more conspicuous in. the 
onset than the plying of their weapons ? or as Lex. 
Poet, has it : " saekja fram skeggi," ad verbum, barba 
obversa progredi, ironice, pronum in faciem coUabi. 
Possibly the reading of Olafs saga ens helga, Chris- 
tiania, 1853, P- 42 : " ei^ fram sottit [ = s6tti at] skeggi, 

Explanations. 475 

qui (exercitus) barba obversa (in proelium) non progre- 
diebatur," really expresses what Sigvat meant to convey- 
by these studiously-doubtful words. 

3. Sender-forth of deck-steed : " sendir Jjil-blakks " : 
deck-steed = ship, its sender-forth = King Olaf (as ruler 
over the sea-force of his realm). 

Page 64. Fight-up-stirrer : " folk-rekr " = King Olaf.— 
Corpse-worms : " hrai-linnr," spears, arrows. The flight 
of corpse-worms had they = they had a hard onset. 

Page 68. Dweller in loft of yoke-beast of the wave : 
" Loft-byggvir unnar eykja " ; wave's yoke-beast = ship, 
its loft = poop, the dweller thereof, the commander, 
here King Olaf. 

Page 93. I. Fight-ice reddener : "I'ss gunn-rjo^r," i.e. 
" rjo^r gunnar I'ss " ; I'ss = icicle, styria, icicle of fight, the 
gleaming weapon tapering to a point, like an icicle, its 
reddener, a warrior, here Biorn the Marshal. 

2. Lace of Listi : "men Lista" = the girth, circle of 
Listi, a landscape of Norway, here = earth (pars pro toto), 
monile terrae = sea, ocean. 

3. When the horses of Ekkil spurn the thorn's moor : 
" par es hestar Ekkils sporna a hag-f orns mo " ; Ekkil, a 
sea-king of fame (S. E. i. 547), his horse = ship ; hawthorn's 
moor, the shore where rollers of hawthorn are laid down 
whereon the ship is hauled up to its shed. We have 
preferred the reading Ekkils of some MSS. to the text's 
" ekkjum," widows or women : " tek ekkjum ymsar I'Sir" 
= I tell women of (my) various deeds, which makes the 
sense both questionable and meagre. 

Page 108. Spoiler of brand of hawk's field : " Lytandi 
branda ifla folda" : hawk's field = the hand on which the 
hawk sits, the brand thereof = gleaming gold, its spoiler, 
scatterer, a bounteous man, here King Olaf 

Page 109. 2. Word reed: "or^-reyr" = tongue. 

3. Kin-lands: " aett-lond " = lands belonging to the 
family (of King Olaf Haraldson). — Gondul's fires' be- 
thronger : "Gondlar clda jjrongvir " = strenuous fighter. 
Gondul, a "Valkyrja," her fire = sword. 

476 The Saga Library. 

Page 145. I. The stem of the drift of war-helm : 
"hj^lm-dri'fu vi^r " = warrior, here King Olaf ; " hjalm- 
drlfa"=drift against the helm, weapons brought to bear 
upon the helm. 

3. Howes'-host : " hauga herr" = ghosts, fiends. — Sea- 
ram : " hafs hrutr " = boat, tub. 

Page 146. 3. Fir-trees of the hone-bed : " foliar hein- 
flets " = men ; " hein-flet," the bed on which the hone, 
whetstone, stretches itself as it were, a sword, the fir- 
tree, stem, up-bearing it = man. — Loader of the sea- 
skate : " hlseSir haf-ski^s " = man ; sea-skate = ship. 

Page 147. I. Breaker of waves'-glitter : " brjotr baru 
bliks" = man ; waves'-glitter = gold. 

2. The son of mighty Saxi Nought found I : meaning : 
to come to these men was a very different thing from 
coming to Earl Rognvald, whose father Wolf therefore 
must have borne the by-name of Saxi. 

3. Chieftain of the Sogn-folk : " Sygna gramr" = King 

4. Thruster down of king-folk : Earl Rognvald, whose 
defiant attitude towards King Olaf of Sweden " thruster 
down " seems to be meant to reflect. 

Page 148. T. Groves of the fire-flame of the field of 
the deer of rollers : " runnar hlunns dyr-loga bekkjar " = 
"runnar hlunn-dyrs bekkjar loga" = men; "hlunn-dyr," 
rollers' deer = ship, its " bekkr," bank, hill-rise, tract of 
hill-rises (waves), field = sea, its " logi," fire-flame, " low " 
= gold, the " runnr," grove, thereof = man. The kenning 
refers to Earl Rognvald's inhospitable subjects. 

2. Mead-Nanna : " mjo=S-Nanna" = woman cupbearer ; 
Nanna, a goddess, the wife of Baldr (S. E. i. 102). 

Page 149. 2. Skates of swan-mead : " andrar (dat. 
ondrum) svan vangs" = ships ; swan-mead = sea. 

3. The gold-ward in Garthrealm : " malma vorSr 1 
Gor«um" = King Jarisleif (p. 148).— Never courtman 
heard I, etc., must refer to the spokes-man of those 
" messengers from King Jarisleif," who are mentioned 
on p. 148. 

Explanations. 477 

Page 150. I. Drowner of the Rhine-sun: "sokkvir 
Ri'nar solar "= Earl Rognvald. Rhine sun = gold (cf. 
S. E. i. 364 : " fa falu j?eir gullit Fafnis-arf i Ri'n " : then 
hid they the gold, Fafnir's heritage, in the Rhine) ; the 
drowner of gold = largitor auri. — Listi's lord: " Lista 
jjengill " = King Olaf; Listi, a district of Norway. 

2. Eric's kin : King Olaf Ericson of Sweden. — Wolf's 
kin : Earl Rognvald Wolfson. 

3. Dele " " and comma after Wolf. The sense is : 
Wise Wolf (Earl Rognvald's father) let take ( = took, 
accepted, approved of) peace being made between you 
and King Olaf of Sweden. 

Page 151. Thing's (read Things') crafts-master: " Jjinga 
kennir," King Olaf The word * Thing,' assembly, here 
probably refers especially to the king in his capacity of 
commander of armed hosts. 

Page 170. Cloud-hall: " sky-rann " = sky, heaven. 

Page 200. Jalk-board's waster: "Jalks brik-topu'Sr = 
topu^r Jalks bri'kar " = warrior, man, here Gudbrand a 
Dales. Jalk, one of Odin's names, his board (brik) = shield. 

Page 310. Ling-fish: " Lyngs fiskr" = serpent, here 
the Long- Worm, Olaf Tryggvison's great war-galley. — 
Dele the commas after " bore " and " reddened." 

Page 313. I. The refrain fragment of one line with 
which the verse begins is completed by the last line of 
the verses on p. 320. So the complete refrain reads : 

Knut was 'neath heaven 
King far foremost. 

This is the second case, in Heimskringla, of a " klofa- 
stef," or split-up refrain ; cf, Eyolf Dadaskald's fragment 
of Bandadrapa, Heimskringla, i. 346-48. 

2. King of the wealth-year: "arsaelljofurr," king blessed 
with seasons of plenty. — Fish-path : " lyr-gata " = sea. 

Page 314. 3. If he get him clear, 'twere better Than a 
mote on furthest fell-side: *'daella er fyrst ( = first) a 
fjalli fundi, ef hann sjdlfr kemsk undan." The idea is : 
It would be for us a more delightful thing than would 

47^ The Saga Library. 

be a meeting with a human being for him who finds 
himself lost in a howling wilderness, if he (King Olaf) 
should get off clear. — Egilsson, in Scripta historica 
Islandorum, iv. 324, sees here a proverb : " dsell er 
fundr first a fjalli " : sweet to meet a man in furthest 
mountains (in the depth of wildernesses). 

Page 315. I. The drift of this verse is : Was it likely, 
that Earl Hakon's business would be to bring about peace 
between Olaf and those of his subjects who would have 
nothing to do with peace with him.-* Why, they had already 
made up their mind to shift their allegiance (cheapened 
chieftains) from Olaf to Knut, before Hakon took in 
hand the furtherance of that business. — Eric's kindred : 
" kyn Ein'ks" = Earl Hakon. 

2. The wood from the west glode : " vi^r skreiS 
vestan " = wooden ships sailed from the west (from 

Page 323. I. Fight-stall, read fight-staff: "ognar- 
stafr " = warrior, here King Knut. 

2. The cleaver of the gold rings = he who divides gold 
rings among his men, a bounteous lord, here King Knut. 
— The king of the folk of Skanings = King Knut = Svein's 
son in the next line. 

Page 331. Ground of the Rhine's flame: " laS ( = 
land) Ri'n-leygs " = woman (apostrophe). — Long mare of 
the din-road : " langr lei^ar dyn-marr = langr marr dyn- 
lei^ar" = longship. 

Page 332. The isle of heaven's shift-ring: "eyja 
lae-baugs " = Weather isle : lae = la = sea, baugr = ring ; 
sea-ring = horizon, weather-region, weather.— Land of 
falcon's longship: "jor^ ifla flausts " = woman (apo- 
strophe) ; ifill or ifli = falcon, its flaust, the ship carrying 
it = hand ; the land of the falcon-bearing hand, a high- 
born lady, partaker in lordly sports. — Scantling's falcon : 
" valr krapta " = ship. — Level ways of Frodi : " flatsloSir 
Fro^a " = sea ; Fro^i, a sea-king of fame (S. E. i. 546). 

Page 334. Wealth-stems : "seims jjollar" = men. 

Page 337. The wound-sound's oar : " sars-sunda 

Explmiatioiis. 479 

arar " = sword(s) ; wound-sound = sea of wounds = 
blood. — Sender-forth of wick's flame : " sendir vi'ka elds" 
= man, bounteous of gold, here King Olaf ; "vik" = wick, 
bight, bay ; hence sea, deep, the flame thereof = gold. 

Page 350. The ward of Greece : "gaetir Grikklands " 
= Christ. 

Page 351. I. Of the refrain of Thorarin Praisetongue's 
poem Togdrapa only the first line is preserved : " Knut 's 
neath the sun's . . . " : Knutr er und solar. Egilsson 
(Shi. V. 7) conjectured that the second line must pro- 
bably have run : setri hveim betri = 

Knut 's neath the sun's 
Seat better than any (lord) ; 

sun's-seat = heaven : Under heaven's wide expanse there 
is none to be matched with Knut. 

2. Graver of heaps of the fight-swan : " or-beiSir svans 
sigr-lana — or-bei^ir lana sigr-svans " = warrior, here 
King Knut ; sigr = fight, its swan = raven, its lanir (lon- 
lanar) heaps = corpse heaps, 

3. Surf-boar's sea-skate: " brim-galtar sae-skf^," board- 
ing of vessels that shows above water, hull. If " brim- 
galtar" be joined to " sund," the rendering would be : All 
the surf-boar's = ship's sound, navigable channel, of 
Eikund was filled with sea-skates = ships. 

4. House-fast peace-men : " gri^-fastir friS-menn " = 
inmates of the king's hall, household, body-guard. — 
Shaft-bidder : " or-bei^ir = orva-bei^ir," arrow-bidder = 
warrior, here King Knut. — Stemcliff's stud : " stafn-khfs 
st6« " = fleet ; klif = cliff, hill-rise, the hill-rise of the 
stem = wave, hence sea, the stud, horses thereof = 

5. Wind-strong surf-deer : " byr-romm brim-dyr " = 
ships driven along by a stiff" gale. 

Page 352. I. Cold-home's falcons : "sval-heims valar" 
= ships. 

2. Denmark of the swan-dale's dim-hall : " Danmork 
svana-dals dokk-salar." Egilsson (Shi. v. 10) translates: 

480 The Saga Library. 

" Daniam, umbrosum ilium lucum, mari adjacentem," 
adding, in a foot-note, " versionem celeb. Raskio debeo, 
haec annotanti : dokksalr, aedes obscura, i.e. umbrosus et 
sylvosus locus, svana-dalr, mare; h. (= hinc) svana-dals 
dokk-salr, lucus maris, aut insulse sylvosse, aut ipsa 
Selandia (sselundr lucus maris) ; ita sv. d. dokks. Dan- 
mork est Dania, multis sylvosis insulis constans, vel 
Dania, cujus pars principalis est Selandia, sedi regiae, 
quae ibidem est, subjacens." The somewhat obscure 
figure therefore is taken to mean : the thick-wooded sea- 
Denmark = island Denmark. By the only other possible 
connection of the words, namely, Svana-dals dokk-salar- 
mork Dana = Swan-dale's {i.e. the sea's) dim-hall-mark 
{i.e. densely-wooded mark or land) of the Danes = the 
sea-girt thickly-wooded land of the Danes, a pretty satis- 
factory kenning comes out, and wide enough to cover all 
that is meant, the whole of Denmark, Jutland included. 

Page 353. Reddener of the bark of boon-ship : " baenar- 
nokkva bark-rjo^r = rjo^r barkar baenar-nokkva " = 
warrior, here, as it seems, an apostrophe to the listener. 
Nokkvi = ship, baen = prayer, the prayer's ship = 
breast, as the seat of emotions, the bark, covering, 
thereof = byrny, coat of mail. — The Frey of the din of 
troll-wife of points : " Odda-leiknar jalm-Freyr = Freyr 
odda-leiknar jalms " = warrior, here King Knut. Leikn, 
the name of a troll-wife maimed by Thor (S. E. i. 258), 
hence a general appellation for troll-fa)^s ; "odda-Leikn," 
therefore, a fay of points, battle-fay, Valkyrja ; her 
" jalmr," din, roar = battle, the Freyr, god, of which = 

Page 357. I. Board-acre: "borS-vollr" = sea (board's 
= ship's-field). 

2. The youthful Shielding, King Olaf Haraldson, still 
young for a king, thirty- four years of age (born 995, this 
encounter taking place Thomas-mass, December 21st, 

Page 358. I. Showers of the axes' skerries : "skurir 
gygjar-skers" = brunts of battle, fight; gygr=axe(S. E. 

Explanations. 481 

i. 569), its sker, skerry, (sea-) rock (object against which 
it is driven) = shield, the showers of ( = on, against) which 
= flights of weapons, battle. — Wide-bottomed guardian 
cask of the winds : " vi^-botn varS-kers glyggs " = earth ; 
glygg = wind, its war^-ker, guardian cask = air, in the 
sense of the vision's vaulted cupola, the viB-botn, wide 
bottom of which = the horizon-bounded earth. 

Page 359. I. But that all-rich one with might and 
main wrought it : " en all-n'kr olli me^ gagni skipan 
sli'kri " : the all-rich (all-mighty) one, which here really 
means the all-ruthless one, was Aslak Pate o' Fitjar 
(p. 358), who struck Erling dead. 

2. Kin-guilt : " fraend-sekja" = theguilt of having killed 
a relative, committed "fraendvi'g," or "aettvi'g." — Nought 
may he gainsay it, kin-slaying: "aettvi'gi ma hann eigi 
nita " = he cannot deny that he has taken a kinsman's 
life. Aslak and Erling were great-grandsons of Horda- 
kari, cf. vol, i. 303. 

3. The white good-man: "hair hinn hvi'ti " = Erling 
Skialgson. — The clash of Gunn : " Gunnar gnyr " = battle ; 
Gunnr, a Valkyrja (Voluspa, 30, Bugge). 

Page 361. I. 'Tis the land that makes men's murder: 
" jorS veldr manna morSi," i.e. it is King Knut's avarice 
for rule in Norway that is bringing about civil bloodshed. 

2. Steed of troll-wife : "gri'^ar soti," cf. i. 261, i, and 
note, p. 405. 

Page 371. I. The hair of the men bade he shear with 
the sword : " Skor baS hann fi'rum efsa me^ hjorvi " = he 
bade men's heads be cut off. 

Page 373. I. Bow's reindeer: "hlyr-vangs hreinn," 
read bow's-field's r. (For storm 'gainst the bow's-field's 
reindeer) : bow's-field = sea, sea-surface, the reindeer 
thereof = ship. — Hill-sides of the flame of bow's-stand : 
" kleifar funa y-stdttar " = women (apostrophe) ; yr = 
bow (arcus), its stand = hand ; the hand's flame = gold, 
the cliffs or hill-rises thereof = women, up-bearing it. 

Page 376. " London's king let find thee land," i.e. 
promised thee an earl's rule over the land of Norway. 

IV. I I 

482 The Saga Library. 

" Yet herein was there dallying " = yet he was slow to 
fulfil his promise, referring to King Knut's faithless treat- 
ment of Kalf as told in chapter cclxi. 

Page 402. The yew's grief : " ys angr " = fire. 

Page 405. I. Thing of war-board : " bor=Sa-])ing " = 
battle; war-board = shield. — Wife of He'Sin = Hild, the 
Valkyrja, hence appellatively = battle. — Gale of Ali : 
"Ala el" = battle, cf i. 206, 3, and note, p. 398. 

2. Thund's storm : " J^undar hregg " = battle. ]7undr, 
one of Odin's names. 

3. Gale of Ali : " Ala el " (see p. 405, i). 

Page 426. Battles' urger : " hildar hvotu^r" = captain, 
commander of war-hosts, here King Olaf. 

Page 429. 2. Throwers of flame of spear-pond : " Geirs 
log-hreytendr 16ns " = " hreytendr logs geirs 16ns " = 
warriors. Spear-pond = blood, its flame (coming from a 
thrower) = cast weapon. 

Page 430. I. The meadow of the hair-path: "tun 
reikar " = head ; reik = the parting (line) of the hair. 

2. The ash-tree of the battle : "askr gunnar" = warrior, 
here Gizur Goldbrow. — The flame of the High one: "bal 
Hars " = sword : bal (cf. bale-fire, A.S. bsel-fyr), flame ; 
Har, the High one, Odin, whose hall was lighted up by 
the gleam of swords, cf. S. E. i. 208 : " pa let OSinn bera 
inn 1 hollina sver^, ok voru sva bjort at far af lysti, ok 
var ekki haft lj6s annat meSan vi^ drykkju var setit " : 
then let Odin bear into the hall swords, and were (they) 
so bright that thereof lighted, and was not had light 
(any) other while at drinking (there) was sat. — The 
plunger of bow's river: "Dal steypir ar-strauma = steypir 
dais ar-strauma," a warrior, here Gizur Goldbrow again. 
Dalr (deal-wood), bow, its river (stream), the flight of 
arrows from it, the plunger = hurler-onwards thereof, a 
warrior. — Frey of the dew of Draupnir : " draupnis dogg- 
freyr = Freyr daggar (gen. of dogg) Draupnis " = a gold 
possessor, man. Cf. S. E. i. 170 : " O^inn lagSi a balit 
gullring ])ann er Draupnir heitir ; honum fylg^i si'^an su 
nattura, at hina niundu hverja nott drupu af honum viij 

Explanations. 483 

gullrlngar jafnhofgir": Odin laid on the bale-fire that 
gold-ring hight Dripper ; with it followed sithence that 
(such) nature, that every ninth night (day) dripped from 
it eight gold-rings equally heavy. 

Page 431. Niordings of the shroud- (rather: stays'-) 
horse : " skas-njorSungar skor^u = Njor=5ungar skor^u 
skaes," sea-fighters, men ; skorSa, a stay, skaer, a horse ; 
stays' horse = ship, its Niordungs (dim.), little Niords, 
gods, = men. 

Page 432. I. Scatterer of the fire of the mast-knop : 
"hyrsendir huna = sendir hyrs huna" = a bounteous 
man, a man, here King Olaf. The fire of the mast-knop 
= gold.— The Thrott of the storm of fight-shed of the 
thwart-garth : " frottr glyggs gunn-ranns jjver-garSa " = 
warrior, here Thorir Hound ; gunn-rann = fight-shed = 
shield, the thwart-garths thereof = shield-burg, the 
storm thereof = battle, the Thrott — Odin — god whereof, 

Page 440. I. Pines of the gale of Jalfad : "el-follar 
Jalfa^s = I^ollar els Jalfa^s " = warriors. Jalfad = Odin, 
his gale = battle, 

2. Hawk-perch' Skogul : " Skogul hauka-setrs " = 
woman ; hawk-perch = hand, on which falcon sits ; the 
Skogul or " Valkyrja," who so carries falcons = a woman 
of high degree. 

Page 441. I. Wont to the murder of Fenja's meal : 
" mor^-venjandi Fenju meldrar " = bounteous man, a 
man (apostrophe). For Fenja's meal, cf i. 199, 2, and 
note, p. 396-7. 

2. Oak of the hawk-lands : "eik oglis landa" = woman, 
cf. note to p. 440, 2. 

Page 443. 2. Fight-skerry stems : " ognar-skers 
mei^ar " = warriors, men ; fight-skerry (against which 
weapons strike) = shield. Cf. note to p. 358, i. 

Page 457. Scratching servants : " yfs drar " = nails. 

Page 459. 5. Main-bolt of (holy) book-speech : "regin- 
nagli boka-mals," supposed to mean : " sacer clavus 
librarii sermonis, vir doctus, clericus, sacer minister eccle- 

484 The Saga Library. 

siae " (Egilsson).^ Others, bearing in mind " regin-nagli " 
in the description of the temple in the Ere-dwellers' Saga, 
translate it " adytum templi," connecting " boka-mals " 
with "baenir," preces libro prsescriptae. The broken 
state of the verse makes a sure interpretation difficult, 
even impossible. " Boka-mal " must evidently mean the 
same as " bok-mal," the language of written books = 
Latin, in contrast to the rune-written vernacular = donsk 
tunga. Now, as donsk tunga, at this time, did not only 
mean Danish tongue, i.e. the language of the Scandinavian 
Germans, but also, collectively, the nations speaking it, 
and even the territory occupied by them, so, we suggest, 
" bok-mal " = Latin here not only means the language 
of written books, but also of the community that 
produced books, i.e. the church, hence the Christian 
Church itself. Looked at from this point of view " regin- 
nagli boka-mals " would form a ** kenning " meaning : 
God's nail, or main-bolt rivetting the church together, 
clavus dei vel cardinalis ecclesiam configens = King Olaf 
the Holy. By this interpretation the sense of this half- 
verse is, at any rate, rendered quite clear. 

^ This interpretation seems clearly out of question ; for the 
church has never enjoined praying to her priests. 



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